Outgoing CCJ president’s concerns
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Out-going President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Michael de la Bastide has expressed his discomfort with Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s suggestion that Jamaica considers establishing its own final appellate court.The regional jurist, who demits office in August this year, said that move might work against the interest of the region’s final appeal court.“It would not be the best course to follow. I think that the preferable course would be to accept the regional court as the final court. I accept, of course that there may be different views on this,” de la Bastide said at a press conference on Saturday to introduce his successor.
Last December Golding, whose administration is also again the retention of the United Kingdom based Privy Council as Jamaica’s final appeal court, suggested to lawmakers in Parliament that the country should consider putting in place its own final institution to oversee appellate matters. But de la Bastide said he is not in support of Golding’s position on the issue. In fact he said the Golding administration’s posture is not good for the region. Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it will not stand in the way of the passage of the Charter of Rights, which is intended to replace Chapter Three of the Constitution, but has again declared its intention to press for Jamaica signing on to the CCJ as its final appellate court. “The Opposition is not going to vote against the charter because it was started by us. We are more than anxious for the fundamental rights of Jamaicans to be expanded and protected,” said former Attorney General and the PNP’s spokesman on Justice, A.J. Nicholson. Last week, Golding told Parliament that the vote on the Charter of Rights would be taken this Tuesday.
The Prime Minister noted that if it was not passed before Parliament was prorogued in two weeks, then the debate would have to be restarted. The Opposition has consistently said it would prefer if the CCJ adjudicated on the provisions of the Charter of Rights rather than the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which now serves as the country’s final court of appeal.
The CCJ, which was established ten years ago, was designed to be the final appellate court for member states of the Caribbean Community.
While Jamaica is a signatory to the establishment of the CCJ, the country has yet to utilise it in its appellate jurisdiction. Only three countries – Barbados, Guyana, and Belize – have signed on to the CCJ. (CMC)