Symmonds dismisses Inniss’ comments on CCJ
Meaningless drivel and brainless buffoonery!
That’s how attorney-at-law and Opposition MP Kerrie Symmonds has dismissed recent criticisms levelled by Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss against the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Inniss told Parliament that he was “deeply troubled by the absence of Barbadians on the Caribbean Court of Justice and by the place being administered by citizens of countries who have refused and find all kinds of excuses not to have the CCJ as their final court of appeal.”
Dismissing the minister’s statement as ignorance more than malice, Symmonds said, “I am sick and tired of the brainless buffoonery which is touted about this region, seeking to pull down some of the few institutions that we have which are really working.
“It [CCJ] is not a lucky dip, it a serious body with a judicial staff that can be drawn from as many as 53 member states across the Commonwealth. It is therefore almost senseless to suggest that because a Barbadian is not on the court there is a problem with the institution,” he said.
The James Central MP, who told Barbados TODAY that he was angered by Inniss’ comments, pointed out that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments do not select the judges of the Trinidad-based regional court, arguing that adequate provision was made when it was established in 2001 to protect the CCJ from interference and this should be respected.
“The judges are selected by an independent body called a Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission and that body is made up of nominees of the BAR associations of the region, two chairmen of the judicial services commission of the member states.
“On a rotating business you have a chairman of the Public Service Commission of one of the member states, and again on a rotating basis you have an appointee of the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of the West Indies, so that the appointment of the judges of the court is therefore deliberately set at a level which is above petty and narrow nationalistic consideration and it is deliberately kept out of the hands of politicians so as to insulate it from the meaningless drivel that Minister Inniss uttered only yesterday.”
The Government minister had also argued that there were enough distinguished Barbadian jurists who had served across the region and were therefore well qualified to sit on the CCJ.
“But for whatever reason, we cannot find it fit to get one there,” Inniss charged.
However, Symmonds countered that the court had to service jurisdictions such as Suriname and Haiti and therefore required judges with an experience or skill in Roman/Dutch law in the case of Suriname and the French Civil Code which is followed in Haiti.
“So it is not just a simple, narrow consideration that you should get a judge from Jamaica or a judge from Barbados. It extends far beyond that in its scope and its reach and the last thing that this region really needs and this institution itself needs is for an unthinking critic with no substantive point to make to be dragging into disrepute the efficacy and the fairness of the Court of Justice.”
Barbados adopted the CCJ as its final court of appeal, replacing the British Privy Council on April 8, 2005.