New CCJ president sworn in

Saturday, September 03, 2011

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BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) — Sir Dennis Byron on Thursday took the oath of office as the second president of the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The 68-year-old international jurist, who took the oath before Governor General of St Kitts and Nevis Sir Cuthbert Sebastian, said that he is a "committed believer" in the CCJ.

"A lot of that is due not only to theoretical ideas, but the actual way in which the court has been functioning over the last seven years."

Sir Dennis was in high praise for his predecessor, Michael De La Bastide of Trinidad and Tobago, whom he has said ever since his appointment had been made public had been helpful in bringing him up to date about the CCJ including its challenges and allowing him "to hit the road running".

He said De La Bastide had set a standard "which everyone has seen and appreciated as I have".

Dominica's President Dr Nicholas Liverpool as well as the Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow, the Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, and the host Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, were among the 500 guests at Government House for the occasion.

Also attending were the Chief Justices of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Jamaica, The Bahamas, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados. as well as the Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana, Attorneys General from several Caribbean countries as well as judges barristers and family members.

The CCJ was established in 2001 as a replacement of the London-based Privy Council as the region's final court.

However, while most of the Caricom countries have signed on to the original jurisdiction of the CCJ that also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration grouping, only Barbados, Guyana and Belize are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction.

Kittian- born, Sir Dennis has had a brilliant legal career serving as a member of the Privy Council, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as well as President of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI). He was also president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

He has written many articles and publications and also holds the first Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law at Dalhousie University Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sir Cuthbert said his appointment as CCJ president "is the true and noble outcome of (his) hard work".

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