Jamaica may not go with CCJ
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government has hinted at the possibility of not having the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court and raised the possibility of establishing its own court to replace the London-based Privy Council.
Tempers flared in parliament on Tuesday when government legislators insisted on holding a referendum on the adoption of the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction.
But in what seemed to be a surprise move, Prime Minister Bruce Golding also raised the possibility of Jamaica establishing its own final appeal court.
“We wish to consider our own final court of appeal. We would respectfully wish that is something for which due consideration be given,” Golding told Parliament, adding: “It is something we wish to consider in great detail and in earnest.”
“We believe we have the judicial experience, we believe we have the maturity to do it,” Golding said while closing debate on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that will replace Chapter III of the present Constitution.
Earlier, members of the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) said that the matter of a final appellate court should be settled along with the passage of the Charter.
But the Prime Minister said that his administration had always held the view that “the adoption of a final court should be put to Jamaicans in a referendum.
“Take it to the people and let the people decide,” he said.
He acknowledged that members of both the government and the opposition were in favour of joining the CCJ in all its jurisdictions, adding: “I don’t think any of us in here must ever make the mistake of presuming that there is any consensus among the people of Jamaica on this, nor must we ever seek to assume that the majority of those people will vote in a particular way.”
The Prime Minister’s position followed the contribution of Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller who said that the matter of the adoption of the CCJ as the final court should also be settled.
“It would be good if it could be settled while our Prime Minister is chair of CARICOM (Caribbean Community).
“Shame and embarrassment should drive us to do everything in our power to avoid a repeat of the authorities in Britain advising us that we have overstayed our welcome. Prime Minister, the Privy Council is asking us to leave, have we no shame? We will not rest in our push for the CCJ to become our final Court of Appeal,” she told legislators.
The CCJ was established in 2001 by regional governments to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court. Most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the court’s original jurisdiction but only Barbados, Guyana and Belize have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction. (CMC)