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Call for CCJ probe

By Sheila Rampersad

The former acting registrar at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is calling on Caricom heads of government to investigate and fix the problems at the regional court.
Dr Leighton Jackson, who was released from his duties on May 6 and escorted by security off the CCJ’s compound on Henry Street, Port of Spain, said just like any judiciary cannot be reorganised without stakeholder consultations, so too the CCJ cannot be allowed to reorganise its administration without wide consultation.
The deputy dean of the Faculty of Law, UWI Mona was responding to a seven-page press statement issued by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) last Friday.
The Commission has oversight responsibility for the CCJ which has been embroiled in a conflict with senior and junior employees over a restructuring exercise. The president of the Court is ex-officio chairman of the Commission.
“Before this story was made known,” a statement from Jackson yesterday said, “none of the stakeholders and certainly not the press were aware that there was a dismantling and restructuring at the CCJ going on. It is unthinkable that any of our chief justices and judicial service commissions could dismantle and ‘restructure’ any of our judiciaries without our knowledge and without observing the four principles of good governance.”
Jackson identified those principles as governance by rules; accountability; transparency; and participation.
He described the CCJ as an “unstable structure” without these anchors.
“This is not because the CCJ is a bad idea; it is because the design of the institutional structure is incomplete.”
Jackson said the Commission’s press statement confirmed his view that the “rulers” of the Court and Commission “tolerate no dissent, are impatient of debate, and will get rid of those with opposing opinions on operations and changes”.
Jackson said first CCJ president Michael de la Bastide set the foundation and philosophy of the Court which current president Sir Dennis Byron is dismantling.
Any future president could again change the structure of the Court without justifying it to the public, he said.
“The Commission and the CCJ have missed a golden opportunity to correct the credibility deficit from which the CCJ suffers among Caribbean publics. Despite the condemnation of these citizens as unemancipated colonials, their caution is not ill-founded, even though they may not have knighthoods or distinguished careers at the bar…”
Jackson said he stands ready to provide evidence of his views.
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