PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, January 17, 2020 (CMC) – A study, conducted by a Germany-based agency, has found that there is a high level of confidence in the integrity and independence of the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Carried out by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German corporation for international co-operation, the study 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 aim 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 organization 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 that 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 judgments.
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.
It 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, 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”.