KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (CMC) – Leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have approved the appointments of a new Chief Justice and the person to head the sub-region’s civil aviation.
OECS Chairman and host Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference that the name of the new head of the judiciary in the sub-region to replace Justice Hugh Rawlins, who demits office on July 31 after five years in the post, would not be made public at this time.
He said the leaders from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, who met here over the past two days, had also approved the appointment of a new director general for the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA).
The former holder of the post, Rosemond James, was among the victims of the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people.
James, along with Gregory McAlpin, the Director of Flight Safety respectively, lost their lives after arriving in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to attend a meeting, a few hours before the powerful earthquake struck on January 12, 2010.
Gonsalves said that the names of the new appointees would be made public only after they had been formally informed of the decision.
“We have had to put certain procedures in place so I really don’t want them to hear on the radio, on the TV, that his or her appointment has been approved. They have to hear about it in a proper manner,” Gonsalves said.
“We have also done the same thing in relation to an appointment of a director-general of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA). This is important for civil aviation. You know ECCA has brought us to the stage where we have a Category One status in terms of our regime and of our airports and this is a very important position,” he added.
Gonsalves said that in the case of the new Chief Justice, while OECS heads of government selects the person, the individual is appointed by letters patent through Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, who is ceremonial head of all but one of the sub-regional countries.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister reminded journalists that the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is also head of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, the only judicial post in which the OECS leaders could outline a position.
He said that a committee reviewed and graded applicants for the post of ECCA Director General and that at a meeting of OECS Civil Aviation Ministers which he chaired a few months ago had recommended the top two candidates.
“It is not going to be good, if you are a serious professional, you apply for a job and before anybody call you and say you have it or you don’t have it, you hear it on the airwaves, especially if you didn’t get it….” Gonsalves said.
“We have to treat people with respect. So while we want to deal with the question of the openness, in time, you will get to know,” he said, adding that “between the Director-General (of the OECS Dr. Len Ishmael) and myself as Chairman, we will make the necessary telephone calls in all of this things and sort them out and then we will have no problem hereafter in making the announcement”.