Get on board, says CCJ president
PRESIDENT OF the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Dennis Byron wants the regional media to do more to bring governments and their people on board with the court.
He said yesterday that in the case of Jamaica, he was “appealing to the Fourth Estate” to assist the people “to do the inevitable, sooner rather than later”.
He made the comments during a meeting of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) at Hilton Barbados.
“Jamaica had passed legislation to abolish appeals to the Privy Council and have the Caribbean Court of Justice established as its final court of appeal, but somebody appealed to the Privy Council, who ruled that that legislation was unconstitutional,” Sir Dennis told the meeting attended by several top media people from the Caribbean and Latin America.
“People who are talking about partiality [of courts] never said how could the Privy Council adjudicate on the rules which perpetuated itself as the final court of appeal . . . .”
He said there was a role for the regional media in encouraging people to speak up and to assist governments in making the correct decision with regard to being on board the CCJ.
To date, only three Caribbean states (Barbados, Belize and Guyana) have replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the CCJ. However, Sir Dennis said all CARICOM countries had signed a treaty obligation, “an international binding obligation”, to abolish appeals to the Privy Council, even though they did not set a time limit for implementation.
What they needed to do now was to take the constitutional steps necessary to achieve this, he told the meeting. He said while people could “sit back and criticise the politicians” about their decisions on the CCJ, the Press and civil society had a role to play in reporting on CCJ-related matters and influencing people and governments.
Sir Dennis was part of a panel discussing Economic Development And The News Media In The Caribbean. Other panellists were Damien King of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, and Ian Durant, deputy director of the Economics Department of the Caribbean Development Bank.
The moderator was chairman of the Gleaner Publishing Company, Oliver Clarke.
King said the Press could not make the people speak up, only report on what people were speaking out about. “I think the problem that you have is that the people are not speaking out,” he told Sir Dennis.