I am Bajan too

Regional officials dismiss complaints that CCJ has not appointed any Bajan judges 

“It is not a question of nationality!”

A regional jurist today rubbished criticisms emanating from within Barbados that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is currently being administered by citizens of countries –– including her native Trinidad and Tobago where the court is headquartered –– which have simply refused to sign on to the CCJ as their court of last resort.

Pointing out that her grandfather, who was a “Weekes”, was Guyanese-born with Bajan roots, Trinidadian-born Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee declared to participants at a regional workshop for senior newspaper editors on the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME) in Port of Spain that she was Bajan too.

Trinidadian-born Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee
Trinidadian-born Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee

In fact, she was very insistent that the matter of the appointment of judges to serve on the CCJ panel, was not one of jurisdiction. Therefore, she argued strongly that any concern about where a judge received his/her birth certificate was simply irrelevant.

“I can’t see the logic in the exercise, where you examine where a judge is from, if we are all CARICOM people and if we are all going towards one aim, which is regional integration,” she told the gathering, which also included several senior regional officials.

“I am part of the CARICOM. I am a child too, just like you, from Barbados,” she said in response to a question posed by Barbados TODAY. “In fact, I have Bajan, Guyanese, Trinidad and I am married to a man with Grenadian roots, so I like to look at it as we are all one,” she added.

Just recently, Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss questioned why no Barbadian judge could find a place on the bench of the CCJ, despite the fact that it was the first CARICOM country to sign up to the regional court and submit itself to its full jurisdiction.

Senior Government minister Donville Inniss
Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss

Speaking in Parliament, the outspoken Inniss also said he was “deeply troubled by the absence of Barbadians on the CCJ and by the fact that the court “was 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”.

However, Justice Lee has responded to those concerns saying: “I do not think you have to have come from Barbados or Guyana or Belize or Dominica [which are the four regional territories that have fully acceded to the court] to be a good judge of the CCJ.”

“Quite frankly, the CCJ has two jurisdictions – it has an appellate and it has an original,” she explained, noting that the majority of member states – including Trinidad and Tobago – participated in the court in its original jurisdiction, where the CCJ is specifically mandated to resolve disputes arising from the CSME.

As a judge of the CCJ, Justice Lee said she was just as concerned about what occurred in Bridgetown as she was about what took place in Georgetown. “I went to Belize and I had dukkah and I had it boil up with stew pork and stew chicken. I say that to say despite the fact that we are separated by water, we are all pretty much alike when it comes to the fact that as a people, we need justice and we need our own people to administer that justice.”

Recently, the Port of Spain-based court has also been stoutly criticized by Barbadian Queen’s Counsels Hal Gollop and Vernon Smith who, in a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, said they were both “flabbergasted” by some of the judgments handed down by the regional court.

In a further blow to the CCJ, two former regional prime ministers – Sir James Mitchell and Basdeo Panday – said yesterday during a panel discussion in Port of Spain that there needed to be a national referendum on whether Trinidad should replace the British Privy Council with the CCJ.

Arguing that the public had lost confidence in the country’s justice system, Panday, who served as the fifth prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago between 1995 and 2001 and had previously spoken of the need for such a regional court, said by involving the people in the decision there would be a stronger sense of ownership and faith in the CCJ.

Sir James, who led St Vincent and the Grenadines between 1984 and 1998, has also urged the oil-rich twin island republic to think seriously about such a move to do away with the London based law lords.

However, Gladys Young, the senior legal officer in the Barbados-based CARICOM Single Market Unit, questioned whether the current regional narrative should be about “CCJ versus Privy Council ten years after the CCJ has been around”. “Is it that the persons who are having concerns or are speaking out are concerned about how judgments are written or how they have been written, or is it just that it didn’t go their way?” she asked.

She was also just as insistent as Justice Lee was today that the nationality of the judges should not be a concern in terms of who sits on the court. “What should always be first and foremost is qualifications and I don’t think that anyone can doubt the qualifications of the persons who are sitting on the Caribbean Court of Justice,” she said.

She noted that Netherlands-born Justice Jason Wit and United Kingdom-born Justice David Hayton, who currently sit on the court, were not CARICOM nationals, while stressing that “what we are concerned with is having the top persons on the court”.

General Secretary of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers Wesley Gibbings also weighed in on the controversial issue. He said the Shanique Myrie case, in which a Jamaican national won her case against Barbados even though her island had not yet signed on to the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction, proved that there could be no discrimination within CARICOM on the basis of nationality.


15 Responses to I am Bajan too

  1. Harry Turnover April 28, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Bdos should withdraw PRONTO. As a matter of fact ,we should have withdrawn after they found Myrie to be a CREDIBLE witness.

  2. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte April 28, 2015 at 6:55 am

    some people dont seem to understand Caricom, how it functions, its agencies etc…… smfh

  3. Ralph Talma April 28, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Minister Inniss is in my opinion quite correct to query the involvement of Judges from T&T etc. It was understandable to have had Judges from the UK and Netherlands etc when the CCJ was first established years ago, for their experience in such Courts. But as of today, all Judges thereof should be from the Countries who have replaced the BPC with the CCJ. After all, if you are not a member of golf club you would not expect to play its course without an invitation!

  4. villager. April 28, 2015 at 8:25 am

    I just cannot understand why these persons eg. the judges on this ccj court believe that we in Barbados should just shut up about the failure of our country to have representation, in terms of the appointment of a Barbadian Judge on the ccj, from the time i saw the result of the myrie case i knew something was very wrong and i will be forever supporting Minister Innis on his stance,every thing is wrong with a system where countries who are not members of the said court having sitting Judges. It is just WRONG.

  5. Brad Ward April 28, 2015 at 9:42 am

    The reason is plain, Barbadian leaders are stupid for letting smart people look at Barbarians as stupid.
    Show me you are smart, vote all out of office who don’t dump the court & the caricom system. We don’t need them

  6. Olutoye Walrond April 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Mr. Turnover, would you have advocated we withdrew from the Privy Council when it ruled against us on the death penalty?

    If so, wouldn’t that behaviour strike you as being akin to the behaviour of the little boy in a game of cricket, who took up his ball and went home in anger when he was bowled out?

    There are ten Judges on the CCJ. There are about 15 member states of the Caribbean Community. If Barbados demands to have a seat on the panel, what would stop the other four countries that will not be represented from making a similar demand?

    And isn’t it about making the use of the best available expertise from the region, rather than having parochial representation?

  7. Maxine Hutchinson April 28, 2015 at 10:47 am

    sThere are those who would want us to believe the the panel of judges on the CCJ are free from bias. Tell me another story. If in the Myrie case, they found it fit to cause us to “fork out” thousands of dollars to that woman whose visit to Barbados was intended to be of a sinful nature and because she was stopped in her tracks, moved heaven and hell to get what she and others wanted – money, being ill-gotten gain. The CCJ found it fit to rule in her favour. If it was Trinidad I am sure her case would not have reached the CCJ at all, much less, being able to rise up as a winner with thousands of dollars in her hand.

    Barbados is seen generally as a place to exploit (after the USA) because our dollar is tied to that of the USA. Many foreign nationals come and act very aggressive to us as though we should not ask or say anything to them. Also, look on our supermarket shelves. Our Barbadian products are marked with higher prices and those of other lands are marked at lower prices. In other words, these foreigners come to our land and want to treat us as though we have no worth. When they apply for jobs here, they walk with their spiritual guides and the interviewers bring back results that they themselves question afterwards and you are telling us about “one Caribbean”? Are you sure it should not be “Carry our being” and let us take over Barbados? Then you tell us to have confidence in the CCJ? Ha! Ha! Ha! NEVER. We will not take the risk of having to pay out thousands of dollars to any prostitutes and / or drug runners again. We will consider going back to the Privy Council. Better to trust the devil that you know that the one that you do not know.

  8. Jewel Jones April 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I totally agree with Mr. Inniss. Why shouldn’t they have a bajan Judge? Didn’t we sign on? What is there to discussed? Why do people always think that bajans are stupid? And No! Having bajan roots don’t make you bajan. You wanna be bajan? Be borned in Barbados or have parents that are bajan. My paternal Grandmother was Irish. Does that make me Irish? Of course not. I was born and raised in Barbados, and had bajan parents(both deceased now). Do your home work Judge!

  9. Brandfield Ward April 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Where is my comment that l made, if you don’t want then I will place it on Face Book.
    Bajans need to dump the leaders that don’t fight for them. That woman is not Barbadian and need to stop saying she is s Bajan. We need to get out of CARICOM if it’s not helping Batbados. Bajans show how smart you are, dump the bastard.

  10. DAP April 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    WE must understand that a lot of those other Caribbean countries would like to see Barbados fall, so that is why the CCJ hit us where it hurt most in our pockets,to hell with them it is better to jump ship now Mr PM than to go down with it because you are not the captain just another passenger from the Gem of the Caribbean (Barbados)

  11. Tony Waterman April 28, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    @Harry Turnover!!!! That the Spirit, pick up your Marbles and run home, because you did’nt get the chance to knock any out of the Ling yourself, you obviously either did’nt follow that case or you are too BIAS to realise that it was the fault of the Three FOOLS we sent to represent us that LOST us the Case, and to see that the Court ruled according to the evidence that was put before it, it was our superiority complex that did us in. So yes Let’s Crawl back on our knees to the WHITE COLONIAL Privy Council, who has publicly stated that they are really NOT interested in hearing any more cases from the Caribbean Basin, one of the reasons why we had NO choice but to have our own Final Appeals Court.

    PROOF:””The then President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has voiced displeasure of Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries continuing to rely on the British JCPC. During an interview Lord Phillips was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “‘in an ideal world’ Commonwealth countries—including those in the Caribbean—would stop using the Privy Council and set up their own final courts of appeal instead.””

    BTW: the possibility of POLITICAL interference, is ONE of the reasons why Jamaica is not yet a signatory to the Appelate division of the CCJ, that was publicly stated back then by Edward Seaga, when his Tax case went to the Privy Council, so what Donville Inniss has in reality successfully done is to put POLITICAL INTERFERENCE back on the table. It is not that T&T,Jamaica and some others don’t subscribe to the CCJ, they are just not yet signed on to the final appelate Division of the Court, and instead of being Critical of them of them, in the Spirit of Community, what Donville Inniss should be doing is putting that effort into convincing them to join up. instead of INFLAMING the issue.

    @Wayne P Hoyte!!! I hope that you are Including Donville Inniss in that grouping

    @Ralph Talma!!! You too should be in the Not understanding Group, these countries you speak of, are in Fact Members of the CCJ, but at this time they do not subscribe to the FINAL APPELATE DIVISION of that court, which they have all promised they will do eventually.

    @villager!!!! When are you People going to Undestand that, these Countries are in fact Members of The CCJ, they are just not at this time subscribing to the FINAL APPELATE division of the Court, and Donville Inniss as a Caricom Area Politician, should keep his Mouth out of the Court.s Business, ther is a system of selecting Judges, and Politics should not and cannot be allowed to get into that system.

    @Olutoye Walrond!!! thank you, merci tres bien, the main word there is Parochial, that’s what Donville is

    @Maxine Hutchinson!!! “”If it was Trinidad I am sure her case would not have reached the CCJ at all, much less, being able to rise up as a winner with thousands of dollars in her hand.”” How true, so why are you blaming the Judges of the CCJ for Ruling on the evidence as layed out before them, by our three Haughty Fools that we sent to represent us, instead of being MAD at Foreigh affairs Minister Maxine Mclean, who single handedly escalated a simple request from her Jamaican Counterpart
    for information on what had really occoured, into a court case.
    On the other hand T&T recently srefused 25+ Jamaicans entry into T&T including a Child whose father was Trinidadian, and the only result was, a meeting between their respective Immigration Ministers, so STOP blaming the CCJ for our misgivings. we just have to stop acting as if we are SUPERIOUR to everyone else around us, including doing it inside our own Country.

  12. J. Payne April 28, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    These politicians don’t realize their OWN comments undermine the CCJ. If Basdeo Panday come and say “that the public had lost confidence in the country’s justice system”, then why not let the Privy Council continue to run it??? Why is the decision of someone one island over more intelligent than the one you can get in your own country? If you can’t trust the judges of Trinidad and Tobago to handle judiciary from beginning to end without a need for a “CCJ” to oversight your own people then what trust can one have in a CCJ which is made up of the same people from Trinidad and all over? If a Supreme Court of Barbados can’t be trusted to be fair then why trust a CCJ which are the same Caribbean people just from one island over? You take sixteen separate jurisdictions which all say they can’t trust themselves to create unbiased opinions for their own people. You bring them together, create a “new court” and suddenly the same persons you just said can’t be trusted are suddenly trustworthy? If Barbados was TRUELY independent the Judiciary would start and end in Barbados and people would have confidence that the judgements coming down from the Supreme Court of Barbados were the most reasoned out there with out a need for the Trinidadians or Jamaicans to help make Barbadian judgements look good as if they’re better than Barbados.

  13. Carl Lockhart April 29, 2015 at 1:18 am

    I don’t know why barbarians are always like this they have problem with everything and everyone. Everyone has freedom to travel to any Caribbean country if Myrie travelled to Barbados she has all right under the treaty of chagaramas and csme, serving on ccj should be about qualifications and not about where you are from, doesn’t barbarians go to Canada USA England all over and take up jobs there were they born there. Errol barrow mother was a Vincentian his father from St croix I don’t see the problem of someone from another country serving on the ccj. It is Caribbean nationals like Vincentians St Lucians and Guyanese from South America that help to build Barbados to be what it is today.

  14. villager. April 29, 2015 at 7:56 am

    can anyone remember when the ccj court went to Jamaica, i remember clearly seeing a photograph in the daily nation,where the chief judge of the said court was standing in the vicinity of the court there, in conversation with the lawyer who was originally representing Myrie, i think that this said attorney at law was now a part of the newly formed political administration, so he recused himself, anyway i think his law firm continued the action, isaw this photo and the accompanying story in the nation newspaper,this was way before the court handed down it’s judgement, and on seeing this i said to myself, no this should not be, even if it was an exchange of pleasantries, this should be,it certainly conveyed the wrong impression to me, but who am i to believe such a thing? Anyone desirous of checking that said circumstance for themselves can probably check with the archives of the nation news paper, i am certain i saw the article there.

  15. Ralph Talma April 29, 2015 at 10:27 am

    @Tony Waterman. VMT for your helpful statement, most of which I was aware of. I sent you a comment a few minutes ago but it has been withheld. Rationes decedendi: not known.


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