New president of the CCJ sworn in Print E-mail
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Friday, 06 July 2018 00:00

The Opening Ceremony of the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting took place on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 at 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. Jamaica time. The ceremony, which was livestreamed on CARICOM’s website and Facebook page, was addressed by CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Andrew Holness. It was also addressed by Outgoing Chairman, President Jovenel Moise of Haiti, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

Preceding that Opening Ceremony, there was a Ceremony for the Swearing in of the new President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Hon. Adrian Saunders. That ceremony, which was also livestreamed, started at 4:00 p.m. local time, 3:00 pm Jamaica time. PM Andrew Holness, Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Outgoing CCJ President Sir Denis Byron, and New CCJ President Hon Justice Adrian Dudley Saunders all gave remarks.

Ambassador LaRocque was the first to give his comments. In those, he commended Hon. Adrian Dudley for his 22 years of service on the bench and affirmed that he is certain that the CCJ will be in good hands. The CCJ is an institution which Ambassador LaRocque is sure to uphold and render well thought-out and fair judgements and is certain that that will continue under the leadership of Hon. Saunders. Outgoing CCJ President Sir Denis Byron spoke next. Like Ambassador LaRocque, he too acclaimed Hon. Saunders’ legacy.

Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow, began on a firm note. He remarked that despite not being accepted by all countries and communities, especially those hesitant to join CARICOM, our CCJ is here to stay. “It is a fact that the CCJ, especially in its incarnation as CARICOM’s final court of appeal, was chartered in circumstances not completely free of doubt. And even to this day, naysayers remain; and even to this day, membership of the court’s appellate jurisdiction is less than optimum. But that is precisely why this ceremony, the taking of the oath of office of the 3rd president of the Court (of Justice), is so important. It underscores the certainty that, growing pains, notwithstanding, our CCJ is here to stay. And it gives a chance to celebrate the accomplishment, indeed the triumph that with all, the court has early on been able to secure.”

He proceeded to highlight Hon. Adrian Saunders’ outstanding work. “The CCJ’s record of stellar performance has been, in no small measure, due to its leadership. And Justice Adrian Saunders, only the third CCJ president, is set to continue what is already becoming, in so short a time, an indelibly established line of distinction.”

“Whatever criticisms may still be aimed at the court, no one can doubt the breadth of scholarship and the depth of its reasoning. And I say this as one whose administration has suffered several reversals at the courts hands. I am nevertheless happy to proclaim my complete confidence in the court. I have strongly disagreed with certain outcomes, but there has never, in my mind, been any doubt as to the integrity of the process that produced those outcomes. Justice, however, remains an uncloistered virtue and freedom of speech is in full flower. Thus, there will always be contrary. And one recent jeremiad about putative CCJ illness took off on the respect due but not always forthcoming so the complain went from the CCJ to CARICOM governments. No, I do not comment about the fairness of such a charge. I do say, however, that the Justice Saunders I know is not only judicial but judicious; he’s a man of touring intellect but also of refinement, of culture, of an almost preternaturally balanced temperament. From him then, no one need fear judicial bullying or even discourtesy. Therefore, I declare, and only slightly tongue in cheek, that the executives of our region keep well sheathed lethal weapons of sovereign dignity. But to close on a serious note, leadership of the court is passed into safe, indeed, inspired, custody. I have no doubt that under his tenure, the CCJ will continue to make great strides and so I must congratulate the Hon. Mr. Justice Saunders on his assumption on the presidency.”

For his part, Hon. Saunders who addressed the heads of government expressed his appreciation to the Governor General for swearing him in. He was quick to acknowledge that he is, “aware that he is first president of the CCJ that has received training entirely in the Caribbean”, this he said “signals the growing maturity of the court as it marches forward as another Caribbean institution forging its own destiny catering specifically to the imperatives of our region, guided by our own unique insights.” He continued stating that “we have no good reason to doubt our ability to grasp full responsibility for interpreting and applying our own laws… This is an obligation that is naturally assumed by all civilized peoples. It is remarkable and regrettable that there are still some who harbour misgivings about the region’s capacity to discharge that responsibility in an efficient and effective manner.” He also stated that over the last 13 years the court has proved its mettle with high calibre judgments.

Hon. Saunders was appointed a high court judge in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court after years of private practice. Since then, he made several strides including being appointed in the Court of Appeal in 2003 then a judge in the CCJ in 2005. His judicial contributions were numerously highlighted before he was sworn in, under oath, by Governor General of Jamaica, Hon. Sir. Patrick Allen.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 July 2018 14:49