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“CCJ a court of complete independence” – Grenadian jurist

Dr. Francis Alexis

Dr. Francis Alexis

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad,  CMC – Prominent Grenadian jurist Dr. Francis Alexis Thursday urged regional countries to accept the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their final court insisting that the “CCJ is a court of complete independence”.

He said the CCJ, which began its operations in 2005, has been rendering landmark decisions and that “doing justice to them calls for a paper on its own”.

The CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and as he delivered the feature address at the ceremony here, Alexis said the CCJ has shown that “it is not afraid to break new ground in the search for justice.

“CCJ has introduced to the Commonwealth, judicial sanctioning of the Attorney General on behalf of the state bringing a civil suit against former Cabinet ministers for damages for the tort of misfeasance in public office, as in selling state land at a gross undervalue.

“So in such matter, CCJ would not confine the state to a criminal prosecution, as traditionally had been the law,” he said, noting that in the civil suit the standard of proof is proof on a balance of probabilities, which is lower than that in a criminal prosecution which is proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Alexis, who is the chairman of the Grenada Constitution Reform Committee, said that this is rather enterprising.

“It might certainly discourage corruption and shady dealings. Clearly, though, the Court will have to be very vigilant to ensure that state functionaries do not abuse such civil proceedings by using them for political vendettas, witch-hunting, harassment and revenge against their political opponents. In that ruling, CCJ indicated its preparedness to frown upon any such abuse,” he said.

He said the CCJ  in its ruling against the Barbados government in the well publicised case of  the Jamaican Shanique Myrie, who was denied entry into that country and deported in 2008, constituted “a giant step in making a reality of the right of free movement of CARICOM nationals across the Caribbean Community, very profoundly bringing home to Caribbeaners a sense of belonging to the Caribbean Community.

“This decision does substantially much more than any previous measure, including resolutions made by Conferences of CARICOM Heads of Government affirming the right to free movement, excepting only the ratifying of the treaty.”

He said another case of significance to the region involved Jeffrey Joseph and Lennox Boyce, who were sentenced to the mandatory death sentence for murder in Barbados.

He said while the two men had petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the “Barbados Privy Council advised the Governor-General that the death sentences should be carried out”.

He said while Barbados had ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, it had not passed legislation incorporating the treaty into its national law.

“Representatives of the Government had, however, publicly made positive statements that Barbados would abide by the Convention. Also in practice, Barbados had given condemned persons an opportunity to have petitions to international human rights bodies processed before deciding whether to execute the sentences or grant them mercy”.

Alexis said that the CCJ ruled that the situation had generated in the two condemned men, ”a legitimate expectation substantively that the state would not execute them without allowing a reasonable time within which the proceedings under the Convention could be completed.

‘In the absence of some overriding public interest, the denying of that legitimate expectation was an unconstitutional contravention of the protection of the law. This ruling by the CCJ is a forward looking strike for justice for the individual against abuse of power by the state,” Alexis added.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Dr. Francis Alexis

Dr. Francis Alexis

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad,  CMC – Prominent Grenadian jurist Dr. Francis Alexis Thursday urged regional countries to accept the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their final court insisting that the “CCJ is a court of complete independence”.

He said the CCJ, which began its operations in 2005, has been rendering landmark decisions and that “doing justice to them calls for a paper on its own”.

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The CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and as he delivered the feature address at the ceremony here, Alexis said the CCJ has shown that “it is not afraid to break new ground in the search for justice.

“CCJ has introduced to the Commonwealth, judicial sanctioning of the Attorney General on behalf of the state bringing a civil suit against former Cabinet ministers for damages for the tort of misfeasance in public office, as in selling state land at a gross undervalue.

“So in such matter, CCJ would not confine the state to a criminal prosecution, as traditionally had been the law,” he said, noting that in the civil suit the standard of proof is proof on a balance of probabilities, which is lower than that in a criminal prosecution which is proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Alexis, who is the chairman of the Grenada Constitution Reform Committee, said that this is rather enterprising.

“It might certainly discourage corruption and shady dealings. Clearly, though, the Court will have to be very vigilant to ensure that state functionaries do not abuse such civil proceedings by using them for political vendettas, witch-hunting, harassment and revenge against their political opponents. In that ruling, CCJ indicated its preparedness to frown upon any such abuse,” he said.

He said the CCJ  in its ruling against the Barbados government in the well publicised case of  the Jamaican Shanique Myrie, who was denied entry into that country and deported in 2008, constituted “a giant step in making a reality of the right of free movement of CARICOM nationals across the Caribbean Community, very profoundly bringing home to Caribbeaners a sense of belonging to the Caribbean Community.

“This decision does substantially much more than any previous measure, including resolutions made by Conferences of CARICOM Heads of Government affirming the right to free movement, excepting only the ratifying of the treaty.”

He said another case of significance to the region involved Jeffrey Joseph and Lennox Boyce, who were sentenced to the mandatory death sentence for murder in Barbados.

He said while the two men had petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the “Barbados Privy Council advised the Governor-General that the death sentences should be carried out”.

He said while Barbados had ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, it had not passed legislation incorporating the treaty into its national law.

“Representatives of the Government had, however, publicly made positive statements that Barbados would abide by the Convention. Also in practice, Barbados had given condemned persons an opportunity to have petitions to international human rights bodies processed before deciding whether to execute the sentences or grant them mercy”.

Alexis said that the CCJ ruled that the situation had generated in the two condemned men, ”a legitimate expectation substantively that the state would not execute them without allowing a reasonable time within which the proceedings under the Convention could be completed.

‘In the absence of some overriding public interest, the denying of that legitimate expectation was an unconstitutional contravention of the protection of the law. This ruling by the CCJ is a forward looking strike for justice for the individual against abuse of power by the state,” Alexis added.