CARICOM urged to address the effectiveness of CCJ
Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte says that the efficiency and effectiveness of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in enforcing judgments under the Revised Treaty is a matter of national and regional concern that must be addressed by CARICOM countries.
This, she says, is imperative as "many Jamaicans do not believe that the rights they are entitled to under the Revised Treaty are being respected by many governments in the region".
The attorney general said that this is fuelled by the delay in the payment of a sum awarded to one Jamaican in her claim before the CCJ, which, she noted, "created much disquiet here at home".
She was making her 2017-18 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Malahoo Forte said that there was a statement reportedly made by one of the Court's judges that "there was no order to implement the CCJ's ruling in that case".
She noted that the right to due process in judicial proceedings, inclusive of an entitlement to a fair hearing in keeping with Section 16 (2) of Jamaica's Constitution, was recognised as extending beyond trial and a final judgment "to the full satisfaction of a money judgment or a judgment for possession or specific performance".
The attorney general pointed out that Article XV of the CCJ Agreement requires member states and all persons to whom the court's judgment applies to comply accordingly.
Additionally, the attorney general said that the agreement further urges members to ensure that all relevant authorities "act in aid of the Court".
Further, that any judgment, decree, order, or sentence handed down by that body "shall be enforced by all courts and authorities in any Member State as if it were a (ruling) of a superior court of that State (in keeping with Article XXVI of the CCJ Agreement)".
Challenges enforcing judgments
According to Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, the CCJ president, Sir Dennis Byron, wrote to all CARICOM attorneys general in March outlining the concerns of the members of the legal fraternity, as well as litigants across the region, about the challenges faced in enforcing judgments.
"The president (noted) that the perception that money judgments are not enforced undermines the rule of law and discourages investment. I would add that, as regards the CCJ's original jurisdiction, it also contributes to the diminishing levels of enthusiasm for the regional project that we call the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)," she added.
Against this background, Malahoo Forte emphasised the need for the enforcement and implementation of regional obligations "if we are to reap tangible benefits from the CSME".
"I am committed to engaging with my colleague attorneys general across the region and the CCJ on how we may improve the court systems and processes that support regional integration," she said.