Maybe a case can still be fabricated for a debate on the logic of why Jamaica should accede to the civil and criminal jurisdictions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
But for those who remain wary of such a move, they, in their arguments, should be prepared to adhere to the facts and to discuss them in their fullest context.
The financing of the court is a matter that has suffered from either misapprehension, or deliberate obfuscation and is, therefore, in need of clarification.
It is widely claimed, for example, that in the eight years since the launch of the CCJ, Jamaica has contributed more than US$3 million annually to its operation, without getting any value for that expenditure.
We might have used that money, the argument goes, to overhaul the domestic court system, to eliminate its backlog of more than 400,000 cases and to improve its accessibility to the public.
In any event, the critics suggest, regional governments may soon not honour their contributions to the court, rendering it cash-starved, like too many other regional institutions, and eventually ending up broken like the courts in Jamaica.
Except that this is the outcome of inchoate contrivance and/or the muddling of data. For, on the face of it, it could be made to appear that Jamaica has doled out more than US$3 million a year to the court and will be asked to part with more cash.
What are the facts?
Jamaica has indeed contributed US$27 million to a fund to finance the CCJ. But there is no open-ended cheque book. That was a one-off contribution.
Or more to the point, when the CCJ was being established, the parties to the agreement asked the Caribbean Development Bank to raise US$100 million which, ultimately, would be the obligation of the member countries.
That money was placed in a trust fund from which US$12 million would be used to run the court for its first two years. The remaining US$88 million would be invested, the return from which would finance the court in perpetuity. In fact, a little more was available for investment, given an additional US$4 million in capital contributions.
Of course, the sustainability of this trust fund depends on the quality of its management as well as the state of global markets. Indeed, after growth in its first three years of operation, the fund did take a hit from the collapse of global financial markets in 2008 and 2009, but has shown recovery since then.
Here is where skilled financial management and stringent oversight come in. In the case of the CCJ's trust fund, that oversight is provided by a board of trustees whose members are drawn from the following regional organisations:
Perhaps, it is a model Jamaica might find useful to finance its courts: a one-off endowment that is professionally managed.
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