Jamadar: Lack of trust stalls CCJ as T&T’s final court

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Jamadar: Lack of trust stalls CCJ as T&T’s final court
Justice Peter Jamadar receives his letter of appointment from President Paula-Mae Weekes as a Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice at the Office of the President, in Port-of-Spain, on Thursday.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — The un­will­ing­ness of cit­i­zens to sup­port moves to make the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ) this coun­try’s fi­nal ap­pel­late court is di­rect­ly linked to a lack of trust and con­fi­dence in the lo­cal Ju­di­cia­ry.

For­mer Ap­peal Court Judge Pe­ter Ja­madar made the com­ment while re­spond­ing to ques­tions from Guardian me­dia af­ter he was sworn in as a CCJ judge dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny at The Cot­tage at Pres­i­dent’s House, on Thurs­day.

Ja­madar said: “Why would mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion, who since In­de­pen­dence have been hes­i­tant and am­biva­lent about the lo­cal ju­di­cia­ry, be able to take this leap and have con­fi­dence in a CCJ when its per­son­nel comes from the re­gion?”

Ja­madar, who is the fourth T&T judge to be el­e­vat­ed to the CCJ since for­mer Chief Jus­tice Michael de la Bastide was ap­point­ed as the first CCJ Pres­i­dent in 2004, al­so stat­ed that cit­i­zens’ neg­a­tive per­cep­tion of the CCJ could not be linked to the court’s abil­i­ty to ad­e­quate­ly re­place the Ju­di­cial Com­mit­tee of the Privy Coun­cil.

“I don’t think there is a ques­tion about com­pe­ten­cy, sov­er­eign­ty, fi­nan­cial ca­pac­i­ty, ef­fec­tive­ness, ef­fi­cien­cy or time­li­ness. It may be there but I think they may be rel­a­tive­ly mi­nor,” he said. Re­fer­ring to an ap­proval rat­ing poll of gov­ern­ment agen­cies, con­duct­ed last year, Ja­madar not­ed that the Ju­di­cia­ry was among the low­est-ranked.

“That is a sig­nif­i­cant mat­ter that has to be ad­dressed. That is for you all to in­ter­ro­gate and dis­cov­er why that is so,” Ja­madar said. While he ad­mit­ted that the chal­lenges fac­ing the Ju­di­cia­ry are well known, he said that so­lu­tions are need­ed to be found.

“I don’t think I need to say that those chal­lenges im­pact not on­ly those in the com­mu­ni­ty but its mem­ber­ship. The re­al ques­tion I think is re­al­ly, how do we con­struct or re­con­struct a Ju­di­cia­ry that has nec­es­sary all the val­ues in a de­mo­c­ra­t­ic so­ci­ety,” Ja­madar said.

Asked whether the Ju­di­cia­ry was bet­ter off when he joined in 1997 or now, the judge chose a diplo­mat­ic re­sponse.

“When I joined the Ju­di­cia­ry, I joined un­der the Chief Jus­tice­ship of Mr Michael de la Bastide. We were young and en­thu­si­as­tic. He (de la Bastide) was an amaz­ing leader. He mo­ti­vat­ed us, en­cour­aged us and I be­lieve that in­spi­ra­tion pos­i­tive­ly in­fect­ed the se­nior judges in the Ju­di­cia­ry right now,” Ja­madar said.

Asked whether his ap­point­ment would help dis­pel pub­lic crit­i­cism over an ap­par­ent lack of eth­nic di­ver­si­ty on the CCJ, Ja­madar said yes.

“All in­ter­na­tion­al courts recog­nise that if there is to be jus­tice for all peo­ple, all must feel that the court is their court,” Ja­madar said.

Speak­ing at the func­tion, CCJ Pres­i­dent Adri­an Saun­ders not­ed that Ja­madar was se­lect­ed from a pool of can­di­dates from Aus­tralia, Botswana, the Unit­ed States, the Unit­ed King­dom and oth­er Caribbean coun­tries.

“His judge­ments are eru­dite, well rea­soned, demon­strate a high in­tel­lect, a deep un­der­stand­ing of Caribbean so­ci­ety and an abid­ing sense of fair­ness,” Saun­ders said. Saun­ders al­so warned Ja­madar of what to ex­pect in his new role.

“I must warn you, you would be re­quired to hit the ground run­ning as both the vol­ume and com­plex­i­ty have been steadi­ly be­com­ing greater,” he said.

In her ad­dress, Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes, her­self a re­tired Court of Ap­peal Judge, said she was hap­py to swear in a for­mer col­league to the re­gion­al court.

“With in­tel­li­gence, vigour, an as­tute world view and a good dose of prac­ti­cal­i­ty to the is­sue be­fore him, he de­liv­ered judge­ments which helped in­flu­ence the lives of in­di­vid­u­als and of our na­tion in gen­er­al,” Weekes said.

The Court of Ap­peal is ex­pect­ed to host a spe­cial sit­ting to mark Ja­madar’s re­tire­ment, next Wednes­day.

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