5th Biennial CAJO Conference held this year in Curacao

From the Caribbean Court of Justice

 

PORT OF SPAIN – The 5th Biennial Conference of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) concluded Sept. 30 at the Renaissance Resort Curaçao & Casino in Willemstad, Curaçao. Hosted by the Judiciary of the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Saint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, it was the first time the conference had been held outside of the Anglophone Caribbean. Under the theme “Innovative, Independent, Responsive – Delivering Justice in a Modern Court” the conference attracted more than 150 judicial officers from the Anglophone Caribbean, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire and the USA. 

The conference began on Sept. 28 and featured a keynote address titled “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” by the Honourable Justice Denys Barrow the CCJ.  Opening the proceeding on the Friday morning of the conference, Professor Ernst Hirsch Ballin, distinguished university professor at Tilburg University, also delivered a well-received address on “The Fragility of Trust. The importance of judicial stability in national and international political turmoil.”  He noted in his presentation that "strengthening trust is a question of a professional and if necessary courageous attitude. It is also a question of paying attention to people, especially to those who need to be protected; vulnerable law-seeking people"

Also included in this year’s conference programme was the launch of the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project’s Sexual Offences Guidelines meant to provide a framework for dealing with sexual offences (especially where children are involved) and for the court’s handling of sexual offences cases and sexual offences victims. Other “hot-button” topics discussed at the conference included cybercrime, judges’ use of social media and judicial gender sensitivity.

The effect of hurricanes Irma and Maria on many of the region’s nations was also of concern to many of the attendees. CAJO Chairman Justice Adrian Saunders urged attendees to contribute generously to the various fund-raising initiatives throughout the region and indicated that CAJO would be collecting funds at the conference to donate to chief justices Eunice Saleh of the Joint Antillean Court and Dame Janice Pereira of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

During the conference, CAJO elected a new 13-person management committee. The conference also recognized the sterling contribution of the region’s registrars, magistrates, parish court judges and court administrators to the development of Caribbean jurisprudence and the efficiency of regional justice systems.  It also called for an enhancement of the status of magistrates and supported the notion that they should be referred to as parish court or district judges. The conference resolution further stated that these judicial officers should enjoy full immunity from suit in the execution of their duties performed in good faith.

Additionally, the association called for improvements in and strengthening of court and case management systems to meet the current and future needs of the justice system and urged that appropriate resources be directed to personnel and court infrastructure to meet these needs. Expressing its disapproval of heads of judiciary being appointed to acting positions for inordinately long periods of time, CAJO also committed itself to measures that enhance judicial independence and judicial accountability.

The full resolution can be seen below and on CAJO’s website at www.thecajo.org.

 

RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT THE 5TH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE CARIBBEAN

ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS (CAJO)

 

THE CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS at its 5th Biennial Conference held at Willemstad, Curacao on 28th – 30th September, 2017:

 

CONSCIOUS of its modest role in improving the administration of justice throughout the Caribbean Region and in promoting judicial independence;

 

RECOGNISING that public confidence in the judiciary is essential both to protecting judicial independence and for the proper administration of justice;

 

MINDFUL that Caribbean Constitutions expressly constitute the State with three co-equal branches of government whose respective Heads are entitled to be accorded appropriate treatment in keeping with their status as the highest office holders in the land;

 

CONCERNED that in this regard significant divergence between actual practice and the letter and spirit of the Constitution has the effect of lowering the status of the Judiciary as a whole, negatively impacting public confidence in the administration of justice and undermining judicial independence;

 

FURTHER CONCERNED that the practice of inordinately long acting appointments of high judicial officials also negatively impacts public confidence in the administration of justice and undermines judicial independence;

 

AND NOTING the establishment of regional judicial bodies such as the Conference of Caribbean Heads of Judiciary that can play a defining role in promoting judicial independence and the development of impartial, competent, efficient and effective judicial officers

 

BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS

 

1)      Re-affirms its support for the principle of co-equality among the branches of Government and calls upon States to take appropriate action to ensure that the judiciary is and is seen to be of commensurate status with the other branches of Government with the Head of the Judiciary being accorded the respect and honour deserving of the Head of a co-equal Branch of the State.

2)      Expresses its disapproval of Heads of judiciary being appointed to acting positions for inordinately long periods of time;

3)      Commits itself to measures that enhance judicial independence and judicial accountability;

4)      Re-commits itself to fulfillment of the aims and objectives set out in its Constitution;

 

RESOLUTION AT THE 5th BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE CARIBBEAN

 

ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS (CAJO)

 

THE CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS at its 5th Biennial Conference held at Curacao, Netherlands Antilles from 28th to 30th September, 2017:

 

NOTING the insufficient recognition of the vital role of Registrars, Magistrates, Parish Judges and Court Administrators as important arms of the Judicial framework of our territories;

 

CONCERNED that the practice of treating these judicial officers and Court Administrators in a manner not commensurate with their contribution to the administration of justice is a source of demoralisation and weakens their effectiveness;

 

BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS

 

Recognizes the sterling contribution of Registrars, Magistrates, Parish Court Judges and Court Administrators of the region to the development of Caribbean Jurisprudence and the efficiency of justice systems;

Recommends that the Anglophone Caribbean adopt the practice of referring to Magistrates either as District or Parish Court Judges as a true indication of their status as judicial officers;

 

Supports the notion that Registrars, Magistrates and Parish Judges enjoy immunity from suit in the execution of their duties performed in good faith;

Calls for improvements in and strengthening of Court and Case Management Systems to meet the current and future needs of the justice system and that appropriate resources be directed to personnel and court infrastructure to meet these needs.