May 21, 2009

Lawyers in Jamaica press Govt on CCJ

Lawyers press Gov't on CCJ
Published: Thursday May 21, 2009
Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter
Source: Jamaica Gleaner

THE JAMAICAN Bar Association has moved a resolution at its annual general meeting, urging the Government to move forward with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The resolution calls for "the Government of Jamaica and the other treaty states to address the outstanding obstacles to Jamaica's participation in the Caribbean Court of Justice at the appellate level".

The Bar Association also called for the Government "to take appropriate steps to increase the insulation of the court from political interference, to make the court more accessible as regards cost and jurisdiction and in particular to entrench the Caribbean Court of Justice".
The United Kingdom-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the country's final court of appeal.

The Opposition People's National Party (PNP), which set in motion the CCJ when it held state power, has said that it would like the obstacles to be removed for the abolition of the Privy Council and for the CCJ to become the country's final court of appeal.

However, the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has maintained that it would only remove the Privy Council as the country's final court of appeal through a referendum. However, the PNP has said that a referendum is not necessary.

The PNP has hinted that it would be pressuring the Government to scrap links to the Privy Council as it is not willing to have the Charter of Rights, which is a review of chapter three of the Jamaican Constitution, being adjudicated by the Privy Council.

"We would want some guarantees about moving towards the Caribbean Court of Justice," A.J. Nicholson, opposition spokesperson on justice, has said.

Meanwhile, during its AGM on March 13, the Bar Association noted that Jamaica now expends considerable funds by way of repayment of the loan from the Caribbean Development Bank, which established the trust which funds the court.
It also said that it is desirable that the final Court of Appeal of Jamaica be more accessible to the average joe, with regard to expense and distance, as well as the requirements for United Kingdom visas.

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