A new CARICOM institution was launched here today to act as a referee for the Community’s own public servants, spread out among organs and agencies across the 15-member bloc.
The Caribbean Community Administrative Tribunal (CCAT), to be based in Port of Spain, was inaugurated at the headquarters of another regional institution – the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) at Prince Road, Pine.
The tribunal is intended to provide an avenue for open ventilation and final resolution of employment grievances between CARICOM’s institutions and staff.
The tribunal’s five members were sworn in by Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, Justice Adrian Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Justice Saunders said: “The establishment of this tribunal represents for me yet another indication of CARICOM’s commitment to upholding the rule of law.
“The tribunal provides enhanced access to justice for staff members of CARICOM institutions, and it is therefore with a deep sense of pride and satisfaction that we witness today’s launch.”
The CCJ, University of the West Indies, the European Union and the International Labour Organization joined various CARICOM institutions to provide the “inspiration, assistance and determination to ensure the CCAT became a reality”, the CCJ justice said
Justice Saunders explained: “Before today’s launch, CARICOM was in the undesirable position where the staff of its institutions faced obstacles in having reviewed internal administrative and disciplinary decisions with which they were not entirely satisfied.
“The establishment of CCAT seeks to close that gap.”
CCAT also affords protection to staff members when they have to contend with the possibility of wanting to seek judicial review before national courts, and it avoids them having to plead their diplomatic immunity before the national courts of member states, he pointed out.
He added that the tribunal will provide staff members the same “efficient and effective” adjudication that would otherwise be expected of a domestic court.
But Justice Saunders stressed that CCAT should not be viewed as a CCJ institution. Appeals from the CCAT, for example can go to the CCJ, he said.
The CCJ justice said: “We mustn’t forget that the staff of the CCJ, themselves, are entitled to access the institution, and therefore it is very problematic for the CCAT to be regarded as a CCJ body.”
The five members are: President, Patterson Cheltenham (Barbados); Lisa Shoman (Belize); J. Emile Ferdinand (St. Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica); Dancia Penn (The British Virgin Islands); and Westmin James (Trinidad and Tobago).
CARICOM leaders approved the establishment of the Tribunal at their 30th Inter-sessional Meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis in February 2019.