PORT OF SPAIN, November 02, 2019. Over 150 judicial officers including Chief Justices, Judges,
Magistrates, Registrars, and Court Administrators from throughout the Caribbean met in Belize City, Belize from October 31- November 02, for the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers’ (CAJO) 6th Biennial Conference.
This year’s Conference was hosted by the Judiciary of Belize under the theme “Judicial Integrity – the
Pathway to Public Trust and Confidence.” It was launched with a well- attended Opening Ceremony on Day One which featured remarks by the Rt Honourable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, the Honourable Mr Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize, and the Honourable Mr Justice Peter Jamadar, Chairman of CAJO and Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). In his remarks, Prime Minister Barrow expressed his appreciation of courts in the region, stating “all sectors in our societies therefore, including the Executives themselves, ought to be grateful for the checks that Judicial Officers impose on either genuine Governmental mistake or deliberate overreach.”
However, the highlight of Day One of the Conference was the keynote address presented by Dr Terrence Farrell, former Deputy Governor of the Central bank of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr Farrell delivered a thought-provoking presentation in which he explored the various reasons why public confidence in court systems throughout the region is low.
He asserted that to reverse this low level of public confidence, it is necessary for courts to implement several changes including ensuring that every “Judicial Appointments Commission has the means to impose intermediate sanctions, including de-rostering and suspending judges, to counsel poor performers out of the judiciary, and where needed, to refer judges to EAP-type counseling, all within the confines of the Judiciary itself without any involvement of the Executive or Legislature.” The second keynote address was delivered on the second morning of the Conference by Ms Roberta
Clarke. Ms Clarke currently serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the International
Commission of Jurists and the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition against Domestic Violence. Her presentation examined how sex, gender, and socio-economic class shape the experiences of people interacting with the justice system.
Also covered during the Conference was a number of other topical issues relevant to judicial officers in the region including pre-trial detention, the rights of indigenous people, environmental pollution, and the use of social media.
At the conclusion of the Conference, the Association passed a number of Resolutions one of which, urged that the Courts in the region be regarded as essential services and recommended the adoption of disaster preparedness and response plans by courts. Additionally, the Association expressed concerns over lengthy acting appointments for Heads of Judiciaries and singled out the position of Chancellor of Guyana which has not had a substantive office holder since 2005. The CAJO also reasserted that it is the duty of all courts to guarantee integrity and to secure the trust and confidence of the people of the Caribbean.
When asked about his first Conference as Chairman, the Honourable Mr Justice Jamadar, remarked that “I would like to personally thank the Honourable Mr Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize, his staff and all the employees of the CCJfor working together to make this Conference successful. Without theirsupport, CAJO would not have been able to host one of the most well-received Conferences in the Association’s history.” For full details of the Conference including the papers presented please visit the CAJO website