Nassau, The Bahamas – The 10th meeting of the Conference of Caribbean Chief Justices and Heads of Judiciary along with the 2nd biennial conference of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) officially opened Thursday.
Thirteen judiciaries and 80 delegates are participating in the three-day event. The theme for the Heads of Judiciary Conference is “Emerging Technologies-Challenges and Opportunities” and the CAJO conference is being held under the theme “Bringing the Law Closer to the People”.
Among Government officials in attendance were Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. John Delaney, Permanent Secretary Archie Nairn and Director of Public Prosecution Vinette Graham-Allen. Members of the National Youth Choir directed by Patricia Bazzard performed for the event.
In his welcome remarks Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett said The Bahamas is faced with challenges inherent in an archipelago that spans hundreds of miles.
“Although New Providence has the largest population base and is the hub of economic activity, the administration of justice must also serve the needs of the small populations of the remoter islands,” said Sir Michael.
The Chief Justice expressed his interest in the conference discussion on the topic “Enhancing access to justice and using technology to enhance the judicial role.”
As a major financial centre and because of its proximity to North America, the Chief Justice said The Bahamas is a known transshipment route for trafficking of drugs, ammunition and people. Further, he noted that the country is sensitive to the issues of money laundering and white-collar crime.
“The objectives of CAJO cannot be met by attending general meetings every two years. They will only be met overtime by a constant interaction among those of us involved in the administration of justice,” he said.
“They will only be met by a constant interaction among members sharing our collective experiences and the lessons learned from our own individual attempts to strengthen our own individual judiciaries.”
He urged participants to renew acquaintances and to make extra special effort to establish relationships with new friends and to build the network of “learned” friends during the conference.
Also participating in the opening ceremony was Rt. Hon. Sir Dennis Byron, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Hon. Justice Adrian Saunders, judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Hon. Michael Kirby, retired judge from Australia and Justice Christopher Blackman.
The Conference of the Caribbean Chief Justices and Heads of Judiciary was established as a forum to allow regional Heads of Judiciary to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest. The first meeting was held in Trinidad in 1998.
The goals of CAJO are directed towards the progression and development of the judicial services and systems of the region.