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Justice Saunders: Have confidence in ourselves

Justice Saunders: Have confidence in ourselves


Vincentian Justice Adrian Saunders, Judge on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), has called on Caribbean people to have more confidence in themselves to establish their own final court.

Justice Saunders made this plea as he delivered a lecture at the Chamber of Commerce Conference room, which was organised by the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association on Friday, February 17, on the topic, “Caribbean Court of Justice: Integration and the Legal Profession.” {{more}}

The CCJ judge emphasised, “We cannot advance as a people if we have no faith in ourselves and in our ability to fashion and maintain appropriate institutions; this lack of faith is regrettable and is misplaced.”

The legal man said that the Privy Council was not equipped to bridge the gap between the law and societies they are not familiar with and in which they don’t live. He said the final court must represent the people, and judges from other parts of the world with no cultural or emotional ties to the region were not able to do this for the Caribbean.

He explained, “Such judges are not well placed to define those delicate shifting lines. It is simply asking them too much to determine what is best for a St. Vincent, a Jamaica or a Montserrat. While a judge may be technically competent, absolutely impartial and super efficient, they cannot be fully effective if they have no personal insight into the broad values of the relevant society.”

Saunders emphasised that the Privy Council on several occasions has reported that their remoteness from the community was a great handicap and because of this, they would often cast their judgement arbitrarily.

The CCJ judge said that this led to “a la carte” sentences, where the Privy Council would pick and choose the occasion to concede in their “legal gymnastic” decisions. He stated that such “appalling lack of consistencies” was mainly evident in death penalties and libel appeals.

He stated, “For the sake of the stability and development of our own jurisprudence, Caribbean people need to find the confidence to invest in our own Caribbean Court of justice. The CCJ will a play a vital role in regional integration and will be insulated from political pressure. I am very proud of the CCJ headquarters and I believe that it completes the Caribbean as an independent civilisation.”

Saunders also described the CCJ as a centrepiece of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, CSME that will have greater bargaining power in the outside world.

He said if the Caribbean does not integrate, the region will be marginalised by powerful countries where the regime of preference and international trade of goods is rapidly collapsing.