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Justice Saunders returns home to SVG for ceremonial sitting of CCJ

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) sat in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday for the first time in its 13-year history.

The ceremonial sitting concluded the court’s inauguration activities for its recently sworn- in President, Justice Adrian Saunders.

The sitting, hosted in the House of Assembly, Kingstown, was attended by various members of local government including Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of SVG, Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday, Speaker of the House of Assembly Jomo Thomas and heads of regional judiciaries, court of appeal judges, diplomats and numerous local attorneys.

During his presentation, the CCJ President explained the decision to host the sitting in SVG. He stated that it resulted from a desire “to provide an opportunity for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to see and meet with the judges of the CCJ. And, naturally, it gives the judges, only one of whom is Vincentian, the opportunity to experience the flavour and nuances of the rich diversity of the Caribbean and SVG in particular.”

In an afternoon in which, speakers quoted various regional musicians, poets, eminent academics and jurists, there were many who both lauded the character, temperament and integrity of the CCJ’s third president and who also called upon regional nations to complete the circle of independence and accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

In a stirring presentation, Gonsalves said, “I never thought I would see the day that the Caribbean Court of Justice sat in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Defending the independence of the CCJ, he dismissed the notion that the court is susceptible to political interference, insisting that those responsible for setting up the CCJ made certain to put in place features like the CCJ Trust Fund and the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) to safeguard the court’s independence.

Pledging to work to make the CCJ the country’s final court of appeal, the prime minister extended an invitation to the Leader of the Opposition to work together to “strive for the seemingly impossible”.

In his presentation, Justice Bryan Sykes, chief justice of Jamaica, acknowledging the increased efficiency of the court, noted the impact of the CCJ in the region, not just because of its judicial work but also because of its championing for increased access to justice for regional citizens.

He further stated that he and “all the judges of Jamaica look forward to the continued growth and expansion of this court under the presidency of Justice Saunders.

“We pledge unreservedly, our support for the President and the Court and will do all within our power to continue to make the case for this Court to become our final appellate court.”

Echoing the sentiments of the prime minister, Rene Baptiste, president of the Bar association of SVG also called for the eastern Caribbean states to make the CCJ its final court of appeal as she recalled the distinguished career of Justice Saunders.

In his response, Justice Saunders stated said: “I am extremely proud of this Court. We have a fine complement of judges. The Court’s judgements can withstand the closest scrutiny. Indeed, our stakeholders consistently credit the court with a high quality of reasoning in our judgments. Our court staff are hard-working and efficient. The court has no backlog. Our electronic filing system is the envy of courts in the Western Hemisphere.”

Comments (6)

  1. Having President, Justice Adrian Saunders at the helms of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), enlightens much hope for me; him being not only of my Vincentian heritage but a man of demonstrated integrity, respect and dignity.
    I ask God’s Blessings on His leadership through this pathway; as he carry’s the touch in his mentorship to the younger generations?

  2. Congrats Sir, full time we surpass the Privy Council and embrace the CCJ.

  3. Why are all these elites trying to push the CCJ down our throats when our people voted just a few years ago in the constitutional referendum that we don’t want it.

    If we should ever vote to abolish the Privy Council appellate process, we would never get it back.

    Why should we vote to get rid of the appellate court of the Privy Council when it is working so well to meet our needs. What rational person throws something away that isn’t broken?

    I am not home but I would certainly be carrying a placard in front of the courthouse telling Saunders that we don’t want his fuc*ing court, not now, not ever.

    These elites have fooled us too many times already. These same elites told us that independence from Great Britain would be our salvation. When we look around we see that those islands that did not drink that poisoned KoolAid are the wealthiest in the Caribbean.

    The current appeal process is our last significant tie to Great Britain. Discarding it would not make us better off in any way. It’s only the elites who feel inferior by not having their own final Caribbean judicial playpen to down press the rest of us.

    We should all be shouting, “NEVER AGAIN!”

  4. Even to have this event in SVG — a political act if there ever was one — is an expression of a court eager to extend its power over our people.

    We all know that our Caribbean lawyers/liars all suck from the same sour bubbie.

  5. God Help Us

    My problem is in asking if Adrian Saunders is politically tainted.

    Whilst studying at Cave Hill as a student Saunders was known to embrace socialism.

    Saunders was a member of the radical Marxist orientated group known as Yulimo, led by Marxist Renwick Rose who was a close friend of Saunders, and remains so today.

    Adrian Saunders along with Ralph Gonsalves were founding members of the UPM.

    1979 Ralph Gonsalves left the UPM, later 1982 forming the Movement for National Unity (MNU).

    The MNU formed by a split from the United People’s Movement due to the refusal of Ralph Gonsalves and others to disown Fidel Castro’s politics.

    September 1979, St Vincent: Parnel Campbell in an interview was asked for his socialist views. He was asked how he felt about communism: “The Vincentian man needed an inspiration of economic justice if he was to put forward the effort needed for the society to develop and make progress.”

    During the Grenada Revolution the Adrian Saunders Yulimo was sympathetic to the revolution, siding with the Russian backed Bernard Coard faction.

    When the Grenada Revolution imploded Adrian Saunders took over leadership of the Marxist orientated Yulimo in an effort to save it, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the 1984 SVG general elections.

    At Mr Saunders July 4th 2018 inauguration in Jamaica, Ralph Gonsalves following his earlier usual hugging up display of Saunders addressed the inauguration ceremony and said he may make another effort for his country to make the CCJ its final court. Despite the fact that the CCJ contained in the proposed new constitution was rejected by the citizenship in 2009 and Gonsalves failed to get the support his government was seeking.

    July 20 2018, Mr Justice Saunders welcomed to SVG by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves who headed the list of speakers who paid tribute to Mr. Justice Saunders.

    Among the welcoming team collection are Jaundy Martin the new SVG Attorney General, Jomo Thomas, Jennifer Astaphan, Rene Baptiste, Parnel Campbell There are also a number of nice people who I have not mentioned. The CCJ President explained the decision to host the sitting in SVG. He stated that it resulted from a desire “to provide an opportunity for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to see and meet with the judges of the CCJ.
    Gonsalves in his presentation said, “I never thought I would see the day that the Caribbean Court of Justice sat in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”. Although nobody raised the point he dismissed the notion that the court is susceptible to political interference. Gonsalves went on to pledge to work to make the CCJ the country’s final court of appeal, the prime minister Gonsalves extended an invitation to the Leader of the Opposition to work together to “strive for the seemingly impossible” the adoption of the previously rejected CCJ.

    My worry is do people really change as they go through life? Because Ralph Gonsalves still embraces his past politics like a badge of honour, hopefully Adrian Saunders does not.

  6. This is a cheap political exercise to advance the Ralph Gonsalves and ULP agenda. The whole legal system in the entire Caribbean needs an overhaul. Ralph Gonsalves is a serpent who believes that he will continue to be a one eye king in a blind man country.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

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