Study finds high level of confidence in integrity of CCJ

Study finds high level of confidence in integrity of CCJ

Friday, January 17, 2020

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – A study conducted by a German-based agency has found that there is a high level of confidence in the integrity and independence of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The study, conducted by the Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German corporation for international co-operation, also commended the CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region's highest and final court, for its institutional design, organisational capacities and the competencies of the staff.

The CCJ which has both an original and appellate jurisdiction, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration system.

The Judicial Integrity Scan study was based on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, which aims to establish standards of judicial integrity internationally. Additionally, the scan utilised Article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption as a benchmark of good governance and integrity.

GIZ is a German federal organisation that supports the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. It has in the past supported and continues to support the Judicial Integrity Group which developed the Bangalore Principles to promote compliance with judicial integrity standards.

The study found that the CCJ had a high level of compliance with the Bangalore Principles in several respects, including having a Code of Judicial Conduct; the monitoring of its judges' compliance with this code; and the high level of public access to the court's hearings and judgements.

It noted that all hearings at the CCJ are live streamed and that this ensured a high level of transparency in court decision-making.

GIZ was also impressed with the manner in which judges were recruited and noted that the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC), the institution that appoints the CCJ judges “guarantees a free and independent selection of judges based on ability and integrity, with the best candidate being selected among applicants”.

The study did suggest, however, that to further ensure that the CCJ is compatible with other courts of a similar nature, measures could be established for unsuccessful applicants to be given the opportunity to file a competition complaint as part of the selection process to the court.

The study also considered that in order to strengthen public confidence in the CCJ, a gender balance among the judges should be sought in the future.

Overall, the GIZ applauded the CCJ for being an independent and accessible institution, creating a distinct benefit for the people of the Caribbean as it continuously exemplifies “great transparency and openness”.

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