Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 7th 2017 Contents A8 news
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, February 7, 2017
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for FEBRUARY 06TH, 2017
CCJ can meet region's needs
Jamaican judge, Justice Patrick
Robinson, is not buying the argu-
ment that the Caribbean Court of
Justice cannot replace the Privy
He made the comment in an in-
terview before the Law Association
of Trinidad and Tobago's (LATT)
second symposium on acceding to
the final appellate jurisdiction of
the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
over the weekend. "We have been
brainwashed to believe that we are
not good enough. And that what is
foreign, what is white, what is Eu-
ropean, especially if it is English, is
better. And it's absolute rubbish,"
Justice Robinson said.
"We have a court in the Caribbe-
an Court of Justice that is as good as
if not better than the Privy Council
and that can fulfil all the needs of
the region." Justice Robinson, who is
the second Caribbean national ever
to sit on the International Court of
Justice, was one of three members of
a distinguished panel of legal experts
invited to argue against the retention
of the Privy Council in England at the
event, which was held at the Southern
Academy for the Performing Arts in
He also commented on the court's
excellent disposal rate. Of 192 cases
filed at the CCJ in over a decade of
operation, 180 have been completed.
He said generally, cases are disposed
of within a year. Adding to his list of
points in favour of the court, Robinson
noted its accessibility.
"We cannot afford the 5000 mile
trek for justice," he said, reminding
that the CCJ has allowed for telecon-
ferencing and encouraged pro bono
representation. "The average CCJ
appellant need not be, and is not, as
well-resourced as the average Privy
Senior Counsel Martin Daly also
shared his experience as a two-term
appointee to the 11-member Region-
al Judicial and Legal Services Com-
mission (RJLSC), which selects CCJ
judges. Saying that he would focus
on the "thickness of the insulation
of the judges," Daly laid out a case for
"a unique and tamper-proof RJLSC."
He said his road show travels with the
court over six years had inspired great
confidence in its administrative and
"To have (the court's judgements)
read and critiqued by eleven persons
from many different jurisdictions,
just lends itself to seeing that any
of these arguments about undue in-
fluence being brought to bear in the
appointment of judges or any of the
other administrative arrangements of
the court simply can't stand scrutiny."
Retired Indian Supreme Court Justice
Bellur Srikrishna expressed surprise
that after 54 years of independence,
T&T had still not managed to dispose
of the far-off Privy Council in favour
of a regional court that already has the
backing of all Caricom states, at least
in its original jurisdiction on disputes
related to the Treaty of Chaguaramas.
"No sovereign country can allow
its judicial decisions to be subject to
review by a court of another sovereign
country," said Srikrishna.
"This is a democratic republic.
You have been independent (over) 50
years. I am surprised that 50 years it
has taken. In India we did it in two."
Srikrishna visited the CCJ head-
quarters in Port-of-Spain and said
he was encouraged by the software
for case management, which has the
potential to expedite the delivery of
justice. "I am extremely impressed
with the technological advances
there. Even today in the Indian Su-
preme Court you don't find these
improvements," he said.
Focusing on the 11-year track re-
cord of the CCJ, including its learned
and culturally sensitive judgements,
the panellists also touched on Privy
Council shortcomings. In 2009, the
President of the UK Supreme Court
complained that his judges were
spending too much time on Com-
monwealth appeal cases.
"We have overstayed our welcome,"
lamented Robinson. "They have be-
come weary, exhausted, of these peo-
ple from the Commonwealth."
Daly recounted appearing before
the Privy Council in a hanging case,
where, at lunch on the second day,
before his team had concluded impor-
tant arguments they were told to wrap
up because the court had allotted two
days to the hearing and a case from
New Zealand was scheduled next.
"I don't understand that way of
disposing of our business," said Daly.
"The time has come for us to give
ourselves some priority, to have some
control over our timetable, and most
importantly to give people in the Car-
ibbean the opportunity to have greater
Only 11 countries still use the Privy
Council as their appellate court, and
the majority of them are from the Car-
ibbean. T&T and Jamaica are two of
the Caribbean's significant holdouts
to the court's final appellate jurisdic-
tion, which has been accessed by only
four Caricom states.
While Law Association president
Reginald Armour admitted to being
disappointed by the low turnout from
the San Fernando Bar Association,
he said: "We at LATT have to be the
spokespersons to promote the na-
tional conversation." Among the civil
society stakeholders were university
lecturer Dr. Indira Rampersad, union
president Vincent Cabrera, human
rights activist Diana Mahabir-Wy-
att and others.
The Law Association intends to
convene a meeting to put a resolu-
tion in support of the CCJ to a vote.
Assuming that the resolution passes,
the association will then lobby po-
litical support. The Government has
expressed its backing for the court,
but requires Opposition cooperation.
Replacement of the Privy Coun-
cil requires a parliamentary special
Farmer's burnt body found in home
A week after being slapped
down and threatened, Rio
Claro farmer Bhim Bipram's
charred body was found at
the door of his gutted home
Although police are awaiting
an autopsy report on Bipram's
body and a report from the
Mayaro Fire Prevention Unit,
his relatives believe he was
Reports state that around 6.30
am, a resident of Guayaguayare
Road, Rio Claro, contacted the
police to report that Bipram's
house was found completely
destroyed and his burnt body lay
in the rubble. When Rio Claro
police, led by Insp Jankie and Sgt
Ragbir, responded, they found
him lying face down at the door.
At the scene yesterday, his
mother Guridai Bipram, sister
Lonella Nandoo and girlfriend
Anjanie Balgobin stood in shock
at the roadside, embracing each
other as undertakers removed his
Balgobin, who spent Sun-
day with Bipram, told the T&T
Guardian he went to deliver
dasheen at the Rio Claro Mar-
ket last week, when he had
an altercation with one of his
neighbours. During that alter-
cation, the neighbour slapped
and threatened him.
"It was a guy living right
around here who did this. The
guy met him in Rio Claro and
slapped him down and told him
that he would 'do for him.' Af-
ter he threatened him we went
and made a report at the police
station and the police said they
would have warned him. Look at
what happened now. We're not
leaving this so," Balgobin said.
There was a stove and a few
candles at Bipram's small home,
but relatives said he was metic-
ulous in not leaving anything lit.
For Guridai, it was two years
since she last saw her son. She
said someone called yesterday
morning saying he was found
dead in his burnt house.
Nandoo said her brother was
a father of two daughters, ages
17 and 10.
She said he reared fresh water
fish on the property and would
plant a garden among other
things for a living. She said he
was also in the process of build-
ing his house.
Crime scene investigators and police officers at the scene where
Bhim Bipram was killed in a fire at his home in Rio Claro yesterday.
PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
International judge at law symposium
T&T Law Association vice president Gerry Brooks, left, Jamaican judge Patrick Robinson and retired Indian
Supreme Court Justice Bellur Srikrishna at the head table during last weekend's symposium on the CCJ versus the
Privy Council at SAPA.
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