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THE CCJ CONTROVERSY
DR HAMID GHANY
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has now found itself at the centre of a raging controversy that can be a setback for its wider acceptance in the Caricom region.
Essentially, the Chief Justice and president of the Court, Sir Dennis Byron, finds himself embroiled in a controversy involving the administration of the court. This revives a long-standing debate in this country about whether chief justices should be both jurists and administrators.
The controversy has assumed even greater proportions given the fact that officials have left the court under varying levels of controversy or secrecy. This does not augur well, especially if the court had to hire public relations specialists to handle its communications.
The problem that the court has faced from the outset has been the issue of whether or not the general Caricom public wants it to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal for the region.
All Caricom countries use the court in its original jurisdiction, but only three use it for its appellate jurisdiction. Those countries (Barbados and Guyana and later Belize) could have been joined by St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 had the electorate there not voted against a new constitution in a referendum which included provisions for joining the CCJ.