March 31, 2008

PNP Keeping a Close Eye on the CCJ Issue

We are looking closely at this - Opposition
published: Friday, March 28, 2008
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller, who had promised to be the Government's "worst nightmare" said that the Opposition would be watching closely to see whether articulated government policies come to fruition.

Simpson Miller, who is leader of the Opposition, said that the PNP would want the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be placed on to the legislative agenda this year. She spoke to The Gleaner after Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall presented the Throne Speech at Gordon House, yesterday.

CCJ issue

When the PNP was in Govern-ment, it attempted to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the CCJ as Jamaica's court of last resort. However, the Jamaica Labour Party opposed the move, saying that a referendum was necessary to make the decision.

"We are looking closely at this," Simpson Miller said.

She added, "Several of the constitutional matters mentioned are things we had consensus on and others we were still having discussion on".

"They are continuing some of what we were doing," Simpson Miller told The Gleaner.

Among the things promised for this parliamentary year are constitutional reform, passing of the Charter of Rights and justice reform. "All of those were started by the People's National Party when we were in Government," Simpson Miller noted.

Nothing new

Robert Pickersgill, the PNP chairman, is also of the view that the directions as articulated by Sir Kenneth are not novel. He told The Gleaner that it was not the custom of the PNP to comment on the Throne Speech, while adding, "I have not heard anything new.

"It is a continuation of our policies," Pickersgill added. He told The Gleaner that Prime Minister Bruce Golding's first 100 days in office "have long gone and I have not seen any kind of new initiative". Like Simpson Miller, he said that he would be waiting for the Budget Debates for the Govern-ment to chart a clear position.

Come April 1, user fees in public health facilities will be abolished, bringing into being a pre-election promise of free health care made by the Government. Simpson Miller said she was waiting to see how this would work.

"There were some pronouncements made, like, for example, on the user fees in health, and I am waiting to get more information on that to see whether it is something that we would be taking up or commenting on."

March 25, 2008

Is the CCJ Dead?

Is the CCJ dead?
Excerpt from Vernon Daley's Article : Caught on camera
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) experiment dead in the water? Last week St Vincent and the Grenadines Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace withdrew his party's support for appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ. The Opposition in Trinidad is also opposed to the court while the Jamaica Labour Party Government in Jamaica has never warmed to it. Only Barbados and Guyana have made the plunge in having the court replace the UK-based Privy Council.

As far as I know, we in Jamaica have to be repaying a multimillion dollar loan to the Caribbean Development Bank which was used to set up the court. Why are we paying for something we are not using? We need to have the CCJ issue resolved and I'm hoping we'll hear a major statement from Prime Minister Bruce Golding about the matter in the upcoming Budget debate.

March 18, 2008

SVG Opposition withdraws support for CCJ

Source: Radio Jamaica - Kingston, Jamaica
Monday, 17 March 2008

The leader of the opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadine, Arnhim Eustace has announced the withdrawal of his party's support for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Most Caribbean countries have pledged to replace the London based Privy Council with the CCJ as their highest court.
Mr. Eustace said he wanted to see more reform to remove what he says is political interference in the administration of justice in the region. "I think I want to see some further movement in relation to the issue of political involvement and what role the political directive can play," said Mr. Eustace.

March 15, 2008

Charter of Rights held Ransom - Jamaica

Charter of Rights to be held at ransom - PNP will not tender support until CCJ passed
Source: Jamaica Gleaner.
published: Saturday March 15, 2008
Opposition spokesman on Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Senator AJ Nicholson, has served notice on the Bruce Golding-led administration that his party will not support the passage of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is established as the nation's final appellate body.

"If there is to be judicial activism, let that judicial activism be done by persons in the Caribbean," Nicholson said in defending his party's position.

He was speaking Thursday night during the Management Institute for National Developments (MIND) public lecture, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

The CCJ, a lomg-standing controversial issue in Jamaica, was put on ice after a 2005 ruling by the Privy Council that it was unconstitutional for the Jamaican Parliament to pass laws to allow the island to participate in the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction without having it entrenched in the Constitution.

Privy Council issue

The Privy Council had agreed that Parliament, by simple majority, could abolish appeals to the United Kingdom appeals court, which was not entrenched in the Constitution. However, the law lords also argued that the Privy Council could not be replaced by a court which was not entrenched in the Jamaican Constitution and whose judges, like those of the domestic court, did not have constitutional protection.

Nicholson said the rights charter should be interpreted by local law lords and not left to overseas individuals.

"We are about to have in our constitution a new charter of rights and freedoms, and in that charter, there are going to be some new and modern provisions, which are not recited in the present Constitution," he said. "Jamaica will have to consider deeply whether it wishes the provisions of that charter to be interpreted and adjudicated upon by a court in the United Kingdom, or a court here in the Caribbean, a court of our own."

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which has been discussed on and off in Parliament for about 25 years, is a piece of legislation which seeks to provide members of the public with a list of fundamental rights and privileges that will be enshrined in or deeply protected by the Constitution.

While in government, Nicholson's People's National Party had championed both the CCJ and the rights charter.

On Thursday night, he said his party would now welcome a referendum on the CCJ.

"I also intend to table in the Senate, very soon, a resolution suggesting to the Government that we go ahead and deal with [this] outstanding matter," he said.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne told The Gleaner yesterday afternoon that she did not have an immediate response to Nicholson's comments.