Sir Dennis Byron appointed President of the Caribbean Court of Justice

ST. KITTS – Son of the soil, the Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron has been appointed as the new President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) during the recent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government Inter-Sessional Summit in Grenada. The appointment followed the unanimous recommendation by the Regional and Judicial Legal Services Commission.

Born in Basseterre, Sir Dennis won the Leeward Islands Scholarship in 1960 and went on to read law at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. At Fitzwilliam, he won his oar as a member of the College’s top rowing team in the May Bumps for 1964. He graduated with an M.A and LL.B. in 1966. In 1965, he was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, after successfully reading for the Bar Exams in the three months between completing his first Degree and commencing his postgraduate Degree.

Sir Dennis distinguished himself in private practice as a Barrister-at-Law and Solicitor throughout the Leeward Islands, with Chambers in Saint Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla from 1966 to 1982. His judicial career began in 1982 when at the age of 38 years he was appointed as a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is a federal Court serving six independent countries together with three Crown Colonies of Great Britain. In 1986, as Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Grenada, on secondment from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, he presided over the famous murder trial involving the assassination of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop – the longest criminal trial in Caribbean history.

Sir Dennis Byron

He was appointed a substantive member of the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 1990.

In 1995, over a five month period, in tandem with Operation Uphold Democracy, Judge Byron, with two other international Judges, and a full supporting team, organized judicial education programmes for the Haitian Judiciary. This was an initiative of the National Center for State Courts of the United States in the wake of the restoration of democratic Government in Haiti.

In 1999, Judge Byron was appointed Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, after acting in that position for two years.

As Acting Chief Justice, Judge Byron made the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Judicial Reform Programme a matter of high priority. In 1997, he launched the Judicial Education Institute as a Committee of the Chief Justice’s Office. The Committee produced a Code of Ethics for Judges, and organized a series of seminars and training programmes providing orientation for Judges, lawyers and trial Court Registrars.

This Programme was but a prelude to the modernisation of practice and procedure in litigation, which was brought to fruition when Judge Byron introduced the new Civil Procedure Rules 2000, which came into operation as of 31st December 2000.

With these reforms, Judge Byron set a three-fold objective, namely, the enhancement of public access to the Court by simplifying procedures, the reduction of the delay of litigation from start to finish, and the inculcation of a higher standard of professionalism at the Bar.

Sir Dennis has served as President of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute in Halifax, Canada since the year 2000.

In March 2001, then Chief Justice Byron was a member of a select international delegation of jurists who travelled to Zimbabwe on a Fact-Finding Mission on behalf of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, inquiring into reports of abuses against the Rule of Law by the Mugabe Government.

In 2000, Judge Byron was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and he was appointed a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council in 2004. Also in 2004, he was appointed as an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

At the invitation of then-Secretary General Kofi Annan, Judge Byron, while serving as Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, from which position he retired, became a permanent Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 2004. The ICTR was established by the United Nations Security Council to try war crimes committed during the genocide of nearly 1 million Rwandans in 1994. Sir Dennis was elected President of the Tribunal in May 2007 and re-elected for a second term in May 2009.

There are 23 other Judges over whom Sir Dennis presides as President of the ICTR. They are, in order of precedence, from Pakistan, Jamaica, United Republic of Tanzania, Turkey, Italy, China, Senegal, United States, Malta, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Russia, Uganda, Kenya, Cameroun, Ghana, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Madagascar, Turkey and Czech Republic. Sir Dennis was elected, and re-elected, President by his fellow Judges, in testimony to their confidence in his competence to lead the Tribunal.

As President of the ICTR which is located in Tanzania, Sir Dennis is also an Under-Secretary General of the United Nations. He is responsible for the overall management of that International Tribunal and for liaising with Member States as well as the Security Council. He oversees the implementation of ICTR strategic policies and the management of its external relations. He provides the dedicated leadership and commitment for the realization of the Tribunal’s overall Completion Strategy without sacrificing any of the vital safeguards of due process and fair trial rights

At the same time, he continues to maintain the excellent level of cooperation with stakeholders that is indispensable to buttress the work of the Tribunal in the development of international criminal justice. He has regularly addressed the Security Council of the United Nations in New York to deliver six-monthly Reports on behalf of the Tribunal in his capacity as President on the progress of the Security Council’s Completion Strategy.

Judge Byron has sat on 7 trial benches and served on a number of pre-trial benches while at the Tribunal. He currently presides over the multi-accused Karemera, et al. trial, also known as Government I, involving Édouard Karemera, former Minister of the Interior of Rwanda, and Matthieu Ngirumpatse, former President of the MRND.

Sir Dennis has written many publications and has been a keynote speaker and guest lecturer at renowned events and conferences across several continents. On 16th March 2011, he delivered the 9th Annual Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen International Law Lecture of the United Nations Association of London hosted by the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.. He also holds the first Yogis & Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law at Dalhousie University.

Sir Dennis is married to Lady Norma Byron, and is the father of Kurt, Michael, Nicholas and Dennis Mandela.

Sir Dennis is the son of the late Mr. Vincent Byron, Sr., M.B.E., former senior civil servant who on occasion acted as Governor-General’s Deputy to former Governor-General Sir Clement Arrindell, Sir Dennis’s uncle-in-law. Mr. Vincent Byron, Sr., and his wife, distinguished business proprietor Mrs. Pearl Byron, both passed away in mid-1998. His only sister, Helen Marcella Byron-Baker, is a senior Property Manager at Durst Fetner, one of the largest property developers in New York.

Sir Dennis previously practised law with his uncle, the late former Magistrate Cecil Byron. He is the older brother of former St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the Republics of China on Taiwan and South Korea, Terence Byron, C.M.G., and of current Opposition Senator in the Federal Parliament the Honourable Vincent Byron, Jr., who are Partners in the local law firm of Byron & Byron.

Sir Dennis will commence his new appointment in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, at a later date to be announced by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The SKNTimes extends heartiest congratulations to Sir Dennis on his auspicious appointment and wishes him all the very best for a successful career at the helm of the Commonwealth Caribbean’s highest and most prestigious

Related Articles

Back to top button