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CCJ lacks mechanism to enforce Shanique Myrie judgement, says judge

Saturday, January 18, 2014 | 9:04 AM    

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – A judge with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Friday said there was no mechanism to enforce the judgement following the recent ruling in the case involving the Jamaican national Shanique Myrie.

Myrie successfully sued the Barbados Government after she was refused entry into the island in 2011.

The CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, and also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, awarded pecuniary damages in the sum of BDS$2,240 (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) and non-pecuniary damages to the tune of BDS$75,000.

Justice Ralston Nelson, speaking at the workshop for regional broadcasters on the regional integration and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME), said there was no order to implement the court’s ruling.

He told the broadcasters to the workshop, organised by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat with funding from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), that there is also no power in the national laws for a CCJ order to be treated as a national order.

Speaking with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after his two and a half hour presentation, Justice Nelson said that the situation is not one that is “unusual".

“To the extent that we are on the international plane, I don’t think it is something that is unusual. The regional economic integration treaty is an aspect of international law and in international you have many tribunals that don’t have coercive powers to enforce their judgements.

“So that is not unusual in international law. It may be a bit unusual in regional integration treaties because in the European jurisdiction, they have a Commission and you could be faced with penalties if you did not comply with an order of the court.”

Justice Nelson said that in international law, the sanction is disapproval of other members and ultimately economic sanctions.

Media reports out of Jamaica said that the Barbados government had not yet paid the compensation as stipulated within the CCJ ruling and Justice Nelson said that none of the Caribbean countries had made good on their intention to enact legislation to make CCJ order enforceable within their jurisdictions.

“As far as I know, none of the states have done that so that when we make an order in favour of an individual you would expect that there would (be) legislation in the state which says the CCJ order shall be treated as a national order upon application by the person who has the order in his favour.

So when it becomes a national order then any High Court judge could enforce it and I mean it is true it would be an order against the government and therefore there are certain things you can’t do. You can’t go and seize government furniture and so on but there are other things that can happen”.

Asked what options would be left for Myrie to pursue, he said “certainly contempt of court is not available in international law.

“We have held there is no such thing as contempt of court in the regional jurisdictions so that what is left is for the member states to pass legislation making the court decisions enforceable locally."

He said when the orders are enforceable locally, “then it seems to be there would be no basis for any state to disobey the court’s orders”.

Justice Nelson said the “general practice is that states do not disobey court orders. It is not law, but states generally do not disobey court orders so that one can expect somewhere down the line that Miss Myrie will receive her judgement.

“Sometimes the wheels move slowly in Barbados and sometimes it takes years for people to collect their judgements,” he added.

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