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Chief justice speaks to impeccability of the Caribbean Court of Justice

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Contact:  Shannon Lebourne


Thursday 26 May 2011  Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court  Honourable Hugh  Anthony Rawlins, has vehemently defended the integrity of the judicial system in the region against the perception that the system is heavily influenced and accountable to the political directorate across individual jurisdictions.


In response to a question from a permanent secretary on whether or not judges to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court or the proposed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) are appointed or recommended by governments of the Eastern Caribbean, Justice Rawlins responded in the negative, while explaining that judges are appointed after due process by the Judicial and Legal Services Review Commission.


The legal luminary says the procedure for the appointment of judges is clearly defined in the 1967 Order in Counsel.


“Judges apply to the  Judicial and Legal Services Review Commission; there is an application which they have to complete with two references. The commission short-lists the applicants and those short listed come before the eleven member commission for interviews. Immediately after the interviews are conducted the selection is made.  I simply say that to say that I can vouch without a doubt that there is simply no truth to those statements that governments have any say in the appointment of judges.”


But what fuels the perception which Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins agrees, exists in a number of Caribbean states.


Justice Rawlins says in his opinion the incorrect claims are being expressed by people who are in positions to know and do better.


“Whenever you hear people make such claims whether  on radio or otherwise and they speak with such wisdom which lack knowledge, the statements are simply perceptions  which are based on nothing but something in the imagination of those who say it exists—nowhere else—and I can speak of that in confidence.”


The only position in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court appointed by the governments of the region is that of the Chief Justice, once consensus is reached among all nine OECS members.


The defence by Honourable Chief Justice Hugh Anthony Rawlins has been viewed by some as an indication of his professional approach to his mandate.

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