Justice Adrian Saunders sworn in as third CCJ president
Justice Adrian Saunders, the newly installed president of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), declared in his first public address that the CCJ, as a final appellate court, was the only logical option for CARICOM territories. He implored member states - including his homeland, St Vincent and the Grenadines - to break free from the United Kingdom-based Privy Council and embrace the CCJ.
"Given the resilience of Caribbean people, I fervently believe that the only logical path will ultimately be taken by the other states, hopefully, sooner rather than later," said Justice Saunders at his swearing-in ceremony at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, St James, yesterday. The event coincided with the 39th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Montego Bay.
Justice Saunders, the third CCJ president, noted that the states of Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda were the only countries that absolutely required a referendum to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.
"I'm extremely heartened to learn that the prime ministers of these states have recently publicly indicated their desire and intention, respectively, to hold such a poll ... ," he said.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, remarked: "It is a matter of great regret that the country from which he (Justice Saunders) hails, St Vincent and the Grenadines, is not yet a member of the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction. I tried in 2009 and failed. Maybe I will try again."
Barbados, Belize, Dominica, and Guyana are the only countries that have signed on to the CCJ as their final appeal court.
Justice Saunders is the first CCJ president who received legal training in the Caribbean. His vision is for the CCJ to become an established symbol of regional integration similar to the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Examinations Council, and the Caribbean Development Bank.
Man of integrity
Several regional leaders endorsed Justice Saunders' ascension to the post, lauding him as a man of integrity who is deeply committed to the delivery of justice.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, CARICOM chairman, asserted, "I am fully confident, therefore, that based on your commendable professional experience and personal attributes, under your stewardship, the court will continue to be a guardian of the rights of the Caribbean people ... ."
Justice Saunders was called to the Bar in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1977. The jurist worked in private practice until 1996, when he was appointed a judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. He rose to the Court of Appeal in 2003; acted as chief justice a year later; and in 2005, he joined the CCJ.