News
February 11, 2014
Justice Desiree Bernard retires from CCJ

by Oscar Ramjeet Tue Feb 11, 2014

The Port of Spain based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will sit in Guyana next Monday, February 17, to hear three appeals and to say farewell to one of its long-standing justices, Justice Desiree Bernard, who demits office on March 2 – her 75th birthday.{{more}}

This is the first time that the CCJ will sit in Guyana and the venue will be at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Lilendaal East Coast Demerara. The CCJ had three other itinerant sittings, in Barbados in April 2012, and March 2013. It also sat in Jamaica in its original jurisdiction in March last year.

It is expected that President of the CCJ, Sir Denis Byron, and other justices of the regional court will outline the sterling contribution the distinguished Guyanese jurist paid to the CCJ and the justice system in the region. Top lawyers in Guyana will also laud Justice Bernard, who was appointed the first female judge in Guyana in 1980 and rose to become the first female Chief Justice and head of the judiciary in the region.

She will be the third judge to retire from the CCJ since the regional court was established in April 2005. Guyanese Duke Pollard was the first, followed two years later by the first President of the Court Michael La Bastide. Reports from the twin island republic state that members of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission are busy trying to name a successor. It is not known whether a woman will succeed her, since she is the lone female on the seven member panel.

Justice Bernard, in an exclusive interview with Searchlight, said that she will take up a part-time appointment with the Industrial Development Bank’s Legal Tribunal and she will devote her time to compiling her speeches for publication.

She is a well-known Caribbean personality, having served as the head of the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women, head of the Organization of Commonwealth Bar Associations, where she won an award in 2001. She also copped the Caribbean Community Triennial Award for Woman for her advocacy for Women’s Development. She received Guyana’s second highest award – the Order of Roraima in 2002, and the Cacique Crown of Honour in 1985.