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Disappointment over CCJ

Rickey Singh

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PRESIDENT OF the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Compton Bourne, yesterday expressed “disappointment” at the paucity of membership of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) five years after its establishmernt with headquarters in Port-of-Spain.Bourne was reacting to concerns about a perceived “threat” to the existence of the CCJ’s operational headquarters resulting from reports in sections of the Trinidad and Tobago media that questioned some US$33.02 million in government expenditure since its auguration in 2005.Concerns about the “media assertions on the CCJ” were outlined in an open letter released earlier in the week by five very prominent West Indians, all awardees of CARICOM’s highest honour – Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC).
Money at play
In response to a question posed by this correspondent, Dr Bourne said that it would be “a matter of considerable disappointment” to the financial supporters of the CCJ to learn of a lingering “irresolution of purpose” by the Caribbean Communiy to broaden the court’s membership base.To date Belize is now about to join Barbados and Guyana in accessing membership of the CCJ, which serves as a final appellate institution (in place of the Privy Council in Britain) and also having original jurisdiction in resolution of intra-regional trade and other disputes. Emphasising his own support for the concerns expressed by the five OCC awardees (Percival Patterson, Sir George Alleyne, Sir Shridath Ramphal, Sir Alister McIntyre and Niocholas Liverpool) Dr Blourne, who had played key role in the CDB’s success in raising the US$100 million for the CCJ noted: “In February 2003, the CDB approved loans totalling US$100.4 million to 11 CARICOM countries (that agreed to participate in the CCJ) for the purpose of financing their contribution to the CCJ Trust Fund.“Almost all of the financial resources utilised by the CDB came from international capital market borrowing, specifically approved by the board of directors.”The Bank, he explained, “undertook this special financing operation in recognition of the CCJ as a critical institutional component of Caribbean integration. Financial support from  USAID, Japan and the European Union would have been similarly involved . . .”.
According to Dr Bourne, “the expectation was that  all 11 (signatory) countries would acceed to membership of the CCJ in a reasonable time . . . .“The fact that in September 2010 only two countries (Guyana and Barbados) have availed themselves of the services of the court, must be considered a major instance of irresolution of purpose by the Caribbean Community and a matter of considerable disappointment to financial supporters of the establishment of the CCJ.”