October 11, 2009

Jamaica rethinks opposition to CCJ

Source: Caribbean360.com

Published: October 8, 2009

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government, which has up to now not supported signing on to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), seems to be softening its position.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding says his administration is contemplating re-evaluating its position on the regional court.

Prime Minister Golding said that a number of changes have been made to the court since his JLP and others raised concerns about it and the time may be now for his government to rethink its position.

"I think we are in a position now, where we can do a revaluation of that now. I put it no stronger than that. But, I think we are now in a position where that proposal can be re-evaluated," he said.

Golding explained that the JLP had reservations about the original concept of the court, including having CARICOM political leaders appoint the judges, as well as the possibility of the CCJ becoming hostage because of lack of finances.

He said that the JLP government also needed to see the court function, in order to evaluate its jurisprudential quality.

But Golding said that the Jamaica government was satisfied with the appointment of a judicial commission to appoint the judges, as well as the setting up of a trust fund to finance the court and felt that, in terms of the performance of the court, a re-evaluation was possible.

The debate over the lack of support for the CCJ was renewed in recent weeks after British jurist Lord Phillips, days before he took up the post of the president of the British Supreme Court this month, complained that he and senior justices spend a "disproportionate" amount of time hearing legal appeals from independent countries from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries.

The CCJ has both an original and appellate jurisdiction, but while most CARICOM countries are members of the original jurisdiction, only Barbados and Guyana have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction.

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