Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has responded with haste to an appeal from Barbados where a resident of that nation is fighting for his right to vote. The CCJ has set the hearing for 13 May 2018 at 11 am. Professor Eddy Ventose, a St. Lucian national who has lived in Barbados for several years, is seeking to be included on the Barbados electoral register. He alleges that under the prevailing laws he is qualified and entitled to be registered. The Chief Justice of Barbados, sitting as a trial judge, after hearing arguments on the matter, had issued the order compelling the Chief Electoral Officer to allow Professor Ventose to be registered to vote.
The Court of Appeal in Barbados on Monday, May 7th ruled that Professor Ventose was entitled to be registered to vote but stopped short of compelling the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to do so, instead the Court ordered the CEO to determine Professor Ventose’s claim within 24 hours. Professor Ventose is asking the CCJ to declare that, as a person who satisfies the necessary requirements, he is entitled to be registered to vote and to order the CEO to enter his name on the final voters’ list ahead of its publication this week.
The Court’s decision on the matter will also affect other Commonwealth citizens, resident in Barbados for the relevant qualifying period, who are also claiming a right to be registered as voters under the Barbados laws. The application by Professor Ventose for leave to appeal came to the CCJ on Friday afternoon and, in light of the acknowledged urgency of the matter, the Court responded by scheduling the hearing for this Sunday, 13 May 2018.
The President of the CCJ, the Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron and the Honourable Messrs. Justices Saunders, Hayton, Anderson and Barrow will hear the appeal. It was noted by the CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron that the Curia court management system played a crucial role in allowing the hearing to heard in such an expeditious manner. The application for the appeal was sent to the CCJ after court hours and the Judges and Registry staff were able to access the documents remotely and quickly put in place the necessary arrangements to hear the appeal.
As one of the ways that CCJ aims to be accessible, the Court has embraced the technology which enables the CCJ to have a virtual courtroom. For this matter, the attorneys will have the ability to appear from their Chambers in Barbados while the Judges of the CCJ have chosen to hear the matter in the courtroom. CCJ’s video-conferencing capabilities include a bridging solution where all parties can appear by using internet-connected computers that are equipped with a video camera and a microphone. By using this technology, there is greater flexibility in how matter can be heard, both for the CCJ and for court users. This also has the effect of ensuring that justice moves swiftly.
The matter is being live-streamed, as are all the CCJ matters, from Courtroom 1, and the broadcast can be accessed at http://bit.ly/2GaJFlc or from ccj.org.