T&T yet to abolish appeals to Privy Council

Chief Justice Ivor Archie (left), shakes hands with National Centre for State Courts vice president and International Division head Jeff Apperson (right), as CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron looks on.

PORT OF SPAIN – Trinidad and Tobago is yet to abolish criminal appeals to the Privy Council which is to be replaced by the Caribbean Court of Justice. This despite Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar saying last April in Parliament that the Government will table legislation to make the historic change.

To date however, the People’s Partnership Government is still working out how to access the appellate system, said Sir Dennis Byron, president of the CCJ yesterday. “I wouldn’t say that either Trinidad or Jamaica is having any problems with the CCJ. They are working out internally the method by which they would access our appellate jurisdiction,” Sir Dennis said.

He said all CARICOM countries had signed an agreement giving the green light for the CCJ to become the final appeal court. Sir Dennis was speaking at the ceremony for the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between the Caribbean Conference of Heads of Judiciary, the CCJ and the United States’ National Center for State Courts.

The MOU will facilitate co-operation in a mutual effort to implement sector reform and enhance the administration of justice for the Caribbean region. The objective also is to increase the capacity of the CCJ to design and implement justice-reform programmes through shared vision, mentorship, knowledge transfer and expertise provided by the NCSC.

Sir Dennis said there have been challenges and expressed confidence these will be dealt with successfully. “But in each country there have been, from time to time, various internal hurdles that they have had to overcome. It is my understanding that they have been addressed in different ways in each country.

The countries that came on first were Guyana, Barbados and Belize and in each of the other countries, and there have been various releases from the various government authorities indicating steps they are taking, we anticipate these steps would be addressed in a most reasonable fashion,” Sir Dennis said.

He said once these steps had been worked out, it would pave the way for the respective countries to be part of the appellate court. Asked what was the time frame for such matters to be ironed out, he said, “My time frame is not the best one to go by. My time frame is immediate.

“So if I had the ability to make the decision I would do it immediately. But of course I don’t and one has to allow the process to work in the best way in the relevant country.” (Guardian)

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