February 16, 2008

Jamaica Labour Party Urged to Support CCJ

JLP urged to back regional court
Source : Jamaica Gleaner
published: Wednesday February 13, 2008
The Editor, Sir:
I noted with more than passing interest your reference to the Prime Minister in a recent editorial as an "emerging regionalist". If, as I trust, this was intended to encourage him to give maximum support to regional cooperation, there is an immediate opportunity for him to do so.
As you rightly point out, the best hope for the Caribbean to meet the challenges of globalisation and international free trade lies in the area of regional cooperation in investment and production. This is what the journey towards the single market and economy is all about.
An integral part of this process of cooperation is the Caribbean Court of Justice, of which Jamaica is a member and the largest contributor to its costs. We are, however, unable to reap the full benefit of our membership because of a ruling of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council nullifying legislation designed to make it our final court of appeal.
Practical effect
The practical effect of that decision is that the Caribbean Court of Justice cannot become our final appellate tribunal without the support and cooperation of both the Government and the parliamentary Opposition. As long as Mr Seaga was in charge of the Jamaica Labour Party, it did not seem likely that such cooperation would be forthcoming.

With Mr Golding's assumption of that position, however, there were signs of less resistance. At the instance of then Prime Minister Patterson and Mr Golding, a series of meetings were held between myself and Delroy Chuck, who was then the JLP spokesperson on these matters.

We arrived at a legislative and consultative procedure which satisfied the fundamental concerns of both parties, while being faithful to the ruling of the law lords in London. All that now remains is for the necessary legislation to be brought to Parliament. The general election intervened but this can now be done, if the Jamaica Labour Party finally and firmly adopts a policy of support for the court as part of the process of regional cooperation.

Desirable objective
Regional economic cooperation has always been a desirable objective. A regional appellate court, established by the region for the region, is a signal plank of that cooperation. Taking into account pressing matters relating to justice and security, such cooperation, as you have properly suggested, has now moved from the desirable to the imperative.

Mr Golding has also been exhorting others within the CARICOM family to eschew "mendicancy" and to free themselves "from the psychological shackles of slavery", in relation to the countries of CARIFORUM subscribing to the economic partnership agreement with the European Union in its present form.

It is indeed ironic that, for decades, influential voices within the region have insisted that mendicancy and mental slavery are two of the foundation stones upon which continued resistance to de-linking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are erected.

The ball is, therefore, now in the Prime Minister's court to show good faith by setting the stage for Jamaicans to remove that real or perceived beam from our collective eye.

I am, etc.,
Spokesman on Justice

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