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Judicial independence of CCJ assured

Judicial independence of CCJ assured

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The judicial independence of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will be safeguarded by institutional mechanisms which, according to Justice Adrian Saunders, are “truly like no other in the region and indeed anywhere else that I can think of.”{{more}}

“The judges were not handpicked by any government or government official or nominee of a government official. They were chosen on perceived merit…. by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC),” Justice Saunders assured the gathering at the 10th Annual Hand Over Ceremony of the Rotary Club South, held at Mariners Hotel on Saturday June 11, where he was the feature speaker. “The vacancies were advertised throughout the Commonwealth. Scores of applications were received. The candidates with the best resumes were invited to an interview and then a final selection was made.”

Justice Saunders informed the audience of about 100 persons that the RJLSC is itself entirely independent of the Governments of the region. Its membership, he said, comprises four nominees of regional bar and law associations; two distinguished jurists nominated by the deans of the law faculties of the Caricom states; two nominees of civil society, nominated jointly by the Secretary-General of CARICOM; the Director-General of the OECS; one Chairman of the Judicial Services Commission of a CARICOM state, and the Chairman of a Public Service Commission of a CARICOM State.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has two members on the RJLSC – Nelcia Robinson, a nominee of Caribbean civil society and Othneil Sylvester, a nominee of the OECS Bar Association.

The other institutional mechanism that will, according to Justice Saunders, ensure the court’s independence is the arrangements made for its funding.

He revealed that the CCJ is to be funded by a Trust Fund capitalized at US$100 million, raised by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on the international market. That money has been handed over to an independent Board of Trustees for administration.

It is hoped that the investment of the fund would yield sufficient sums of money to take care of the expenses of the CCJ for the foreseeable future. CARICOM member-states will repay the CDB for the funds raised in varying proportions according to their Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

“What is brilliant about this arrangement is that the financial commitments of CARICOM states are obligations to the CDB and so default by any state cannot affect the funding of the court,” Justice Saunders concluded.

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