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EDITORIAL – Time to clear the air on threat to CCJ

marciadottin, [email protected]

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THE STRONG warning sounded by five very eminent citizens of our Caribbean Community on the threat facing the very existence of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), deserves to actively engage the attention of all Heads of Government of our region.
It is commendable that the signatories to the open statement on this challenging issue – as reported in yesterday’s edition – should have felt it obligatory to ring the warning bell about the dangerous implications of the distortions on the CCJ recently published in Trinidad and Tobago.
In particular, the assertion that Trinidad and Tobago was paying a heavy cost of TT$200 million (BDS$66.02 million) since the inauguration of the court in Port-of-Spain in 2005, clearly should not be left for a response by the distinguished President of the CCJ, Michael de la Bastide, himself a national of that CARICOM state.
On the other hand, the president of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr Compton Bourne, who had played a critical role in that regional institution’s success in mobilising about US$100 million for a trust fund to enable the court’s operation, may wish to remind the public about the modalities of the funding process, if only to reaffirm the case advanced by the five prominent CARICOM nationals.
Barbados’ own former Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons, having himself played key roles in arrangements for the CCJ’s establishment and functioning, could well appreciate the timely warning by the five awardees of the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC).
They are Sir George Alleyne; P.J. Patterson; Sir Shridath Ramphal; Sir Alister McIntyre and Nicholas Liverpool.
While it is a very challenging time for most, if not all our Heads of Government, a most welcome response could be that of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Perhaps not today when she is occupied with a host of official state activities marking that nation’s 48th Independence anniversary. Or even by Thursday when she has to preside over a post-election retreat with her cabinet colleagues and top advisers.
But the earlier the prime minister can offer a response to the publicly expressed concerns about the “threat” to the CCJ would surely be welcome by more than the group of five eminent people.
For a start, Persad-Bissessar, a former attorney general, happens to be the leader of the dominant party that comprises  the People’s Partnership Government – the United National Congress (UNC). It was the UNC’s former leader, Basdeo Panday, who, along with other CARICOM leaders, had signed on February 14, 2001, the agreement establishing the CCJ.