Would the Judges of the CCJ be vulnerable to political manipulation?

It is generally accepted in our societies that independence of the judiciary is a vital and essential ingredient of the rule of law, a basic principle of governance in CARICOM Member States. To ensure independence of the members of the Court, there are appropriate provisions in the Agreement Establishing the CCJ to provide for credible institutional arrangements.

Firstly, unlike the situation with the European Court of Justice, where Judges are appointed by the Ministers of Governments, Judges of the CCJ are appointed by a Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC). The composition of the RJLSC should offer comfort to the citizens of the region. The President of the CCJ chairs the Commission. Of its 11 members, four are to be appointed on the recommendations of the legal fraternity; two are to be chairpersons of national judicial and public service commissions, two are to be appointed by the Secretary General of CARICOM and the Director-General of the OECS jointly after consultation with non-Governmental organisations.

The Agreement also addresses the security of tenure of Judges. Removal of Judges from office requires an affirmative recommendation of a tribunal established for the purpose. The President of the Court is appointed by the Heads of Government of participating States on the recommendation of the commission and may be removed for cause only on the recommendation of the commission acting on the advice of a tribunal established for the purpose. The judges of the European Court of Justice, as indicated above, and the European Court of First Instance, are appointed by the Ministers of Government and those of the Andean Court of Justice are elected by States.

In effect, the Caribbean Community is the only integration movement whose judges are not directly appointed or elected by Member States.

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