Now, that is about to change, as the CCJ gets ready to embark upon a broad base public awareness program that is designed to sensitize nationals about the importance and workings of the regional institution.
Sir Dennis Byron, a former Chief Justice of the OECS Supreme Court and until recently, President of the UN International Tribunal in Rwanda, will assume the position of CCJ President, in a ceremony being planned for Government House, St. Kitts, on Thursday 1st September, at 5:00pm.
The public education activities in St. Kitts & Nevis will provide information about the institutional arrangements that underpin the Court and to give some indication of how the Court has been operating in practice (with examples of original and appellate jurisdiction judgments).
According to a release from the CCJ the opportunity will be used when all the judges of the Court arrive in St. Kitts from this weekend, to organize a number of public discussions in various parts of the federation, with the judges serving as resource persons to address issues that may arise in the discussions.
They are hoping to underscore the importance of a final appellate Court being sited in the Caribbean.
While addressing the Jamaica Bar Association in May this year, Sir Dennis told the members “I sincerely believe that the success of the CCJ will contribute to the Caribbean Region, to its social stability, economic development and to the strengthening of regional integration which can be derived from the pooling of resources. I sincerely hope that I will live up to the high expectations of the Caribbean citizens in my new position.”
He continued, “I come with respect for the process here in Jamaica, believing that it is useful for judicial and legal commentators to do outreach to provide information to the public.” This outreach initiative is now spreading its wings to St. Kitts & Nevis.
“It is now over six years since the CCJ has been operational. Many of the valid points of concern raised over many long years in contributions from distinguished judges, learned lawyers, scholarly academics, versatile journalists, and renowned elected politicians have been answered by the effluxion of time, and the court’s operations and functions have spoken eloquently on many of these issues,” stated Sir Dennis to the Jamaican legal fraternity.
It is the hope of Sir Dennis now that he is about to assume the presidency of the CCJ, with a ceremony in his own home country, that his fellow nationals too, would begin to see the benefits of the Court and that there is no need to be hesitant and fearful about its ability to deliver justice. St. Kitts & Nevis, (like its other OECS sister states), has not yet signed on fully to accept the CCJ as its final appellate institution.
During the town hall meetings and discussions with selected organizations, government officials, members of opposition parties, the media, the Church, school and other entities, each objective will be presented by a different judge, who will be allowed a maximum of 10-15 minutes to present.
Though the final schedule of meetings is still being finalized, we publish below the draft list of sessions, for the benefit of readers.