Lewis scoffs at claims about moves to remove him as chair of CCJTF
February 11, 2014

Lewis scoffs at claims about moves to remove him as chair of CCJTF

Local lawyer and politician Dr Linton Lewis has scoffed at claims that there are moves to have him removed as chairman of the Caribbean Court of Justice Trust Fund (CCJTF).{{more}}

Lewis was asked by Searchlight to respond to the claims which appeared in the Trinidad Express over the weekend. The paper reported a brewing power struggle among members of the CCJTF’s Board of Trustees, and said lobbying was now taking place to move chairman Lewis and vice chair, Trinidadian Christine Sahadeo, a mere six months after the two were elected to a three-year term of office. The move, the paper said, goes back to Sahadeo’s close defeat of Trinidad and Tobago’s Chief Justice Ivor Archie for the vice chair position, and the subsequent concerns, reportedly expressed by some board members, that both Lewis and Sahadeo are politicians.

Lewis is chairman of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and an Opposition senator in Parliament. Sahadeo served as senator under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) administration from 2002 to 2007, during which time she served as minister in the Ministry of Finance.

“I read the article and I think what the article is trying to say is that there were some movements made to ensure that they did not get in – but we are in,” Lewis told SEARCHLIGHT, in reference to himself and Sahadeo.

The newspaper, however, said its sources claim that the election of Lewis and Sahadeo remains a sticking point.

The sources confirmed that attempts had been made to “pre-empt the election by way of a teleconference of the board members that was expected to be held in the middle of May last year.” The election took place in July.

This planned teleconference was arranged after concerns were raised by former chairman Dr Rollin Bertrand, who felt that politicians should not be allowed to serve on the board of trustees of the CCJTF. He wanted the outgoing chair and vice-chair reappointed.

The planned staging of the teleconference was brought to the attention of the CCJTF’s executive officer Glenn Cheong and the trustees and due to strong objections, it was aborted, the paper stated.

Another trustee, Wilfred Abrahams, is also a senator appointed under the Barbados Labour Party, the article stated.

The CCJTF regulations do not prevent a person with any political affiliation from becoming a member of the board of trustees.

Lewis said that he would be releasing a statement later this week confirming that the entire board of trustees stood in support of the chair and vice chair.

“We are supposed to serve for a period of three years and that is our telling; we cannot be removed,” he said.

The US$100 million trust fund, under Article III of the Agreement establishing the CCJTF, was set up to provide resources for the capital and operating budget of the Caribbean Court of Juctice (CCJ). It provides an independent source of funding in perpetuity, which serves to dissuade the perception that judges may be inclined to deliver favourable judgments to governments and other interest groups in the Caribbean. (DD)