KINGSTON – Justice Adrian Saunders was on Wednesday inaugurated as the third president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), disappointed that more Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations have not yet signed on to the court’s appellate jurisdictions but hopeful that they will eventually all get on board.
He took the oath of office at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in Jamaica on Wednesday evening, ahead of the opening ceremony of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, before host Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
CCJ president Justice Adrian Saunders took the oath of office before Jamaica’s Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
Justice Saunders took over from Sir Dennis Byron, who spoke at the inauguration ceremony and described his successor as being fully prepared and fit for the job.
Addressing the audience that included several regional leaders, and a delegation from the CCJ, the court’s new president expressed disappointment that the vast majority of the 15 CARICOM member countries have struck with the Privy Council as their final court of appeal, instead of signing on to the Trinidad-based CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction.
He said there was “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 have misgivings about the region’s capacity to discharge that responsibility in an efficient and effective manner,” he lamented, noting that the CCJ has demonstrated its mettle over the last 13 years and the high calibre of its judgements speak for itself.
Only three Caribbean countries have made the CCJ their final court – Barbados, Belize and Guyana.
However, Justice Saunders said he believes that everything is set for the CCJ to become as accepted as other regional institutions, such as the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Development Bank or the Caribbean Examinations Council.
Among those countries that have not yet signed on is Justice Saunders’ own, St Vincent and the Grenadines.