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Jun 23, 2008

Regional team in town to promote C.C.J./C.S.M.E.

Story PictureIt was finally established in 2003 and while Belize has paid up its three point seven million U.S. dollar fee to the Caribbean Court of Justice, we still retain London’s Privy Council as the final court of appeal. But this week, members of the C.C.J. are meeting in Belize with stakeholders to build awareness on the work of the Court. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports from the Radisson.

Radha Permanand, Deputy Registrar, C.C.J.
“A deeper understanding and awareness of the C.C.J. and the treaty will go a long way towards fulfilling the C.C.J.’s objectives of developing Caribbean jurisprudence and deepening regional integration. It will also allow the C.C.J. to do what it is here to do and that is to serve its people.”

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
A deeper understanding of the Caribbean Court of Justice is what has brought members of the legal and business community together for a one-day forum entitled “The C.C.J. and the C.S.M.E.: vehicles for regional unity: What does it mean for you and for me?”

Justice De la Bastide, President, C.C.J.
“We want to bring an awareness to the people of Belize that there are possibilities even under the original jurisdiction of the court for them to seek redress for individuals and companies who have a right of access to the court and we think it is important that people like lawyers who advise clients and the general public should recognise that even though Belize has not signed on to the appellate jurisdiction of the court, they are very much part of the original jurisdiction, which is concerned the interpretation of the treaty creating the C.S.M.E.”

The C.C.J. and its President, Justice Michael de la Bastide, are also on a campaign of self promotion.

Justice De la Bastide
“We also of course are interested in bringing information which will help Belizeans to consider the question of whether they would like to substitute the C.C.J. for the Privy Council as their final court of appeal. I make no bones about it we are bringing to the attention of people, the advantages of doing so, particularly in terms of accessibility and cost. Trinidad and Tobago is more accessible than is London. Basically, our purpose is to provide the relevant information on which an informed decision can be made. We haven’t come here to hurry anyone into make a decision in our favour; that is not our role.”

Although Belize is one of the twelve CARICOM countries which have signed onto the agreement establishing the C.C.J., only Barbados and Guyana have actually made the institution their final court of appeal.

Godfrey Smith, Past Attorney General (July 16, 2004)
“Our decision today is important not only for the success and vitality and vigour of the operation of the court, but indeed for the future of the entire regional integration movement.”

In 2004, the P.U.P. government failed to secure the support of the U.D.P. to garner the necessary two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives to amend the constitution and name the C.C.J. as the final court of appeal. But today Attorney General Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington told News Five his government is willing to revisit the matter.

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Attorney General
“We are already a part of it, the only thing left is for us to advance onto the appellate jurisdiction. Our present government is contemplating the matter very seriously. Only yesterday I had a discussion with the prime minister about it and there is a suggestion from our local court that we may have to do a referendum before we can cede to the appellate jurisdiction. The prime minister is going to talk more about that, but it is something that we are looking into.”

Other topics discussed at today’s forum included C.S.M.E. and Labour, C.C.J. and the Legal Profession, and Competition Law. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The Caribbean Court of Justice which is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, has seven sitting Justices.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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