November 05, 2009

Call for Jamaica referendum on Caribbean Court

Published: Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Renowned human rights attorney Lord Anthony Gifford has made a call for a referendum for Jamaicans to determine whether the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) should become the country’s final court of appeal.

Lord Gifford, who practices in Jamaica and in the United Kingdom as a barrister said the CCJ would be more accessible, affordable and provide a better quality of justice for Jamaicans and other former British colonies in the Caribbean, than the Judicial Committee of the UK Privy Council, which currently serves as the final appellate court for criminal and civil matters.

Lord Gifford gave his views in response to Lord Phillips, president of the U.K. Supreme Court, who stated that the law lords on the Privy Council were spending a “disproportionate” amount of time on cases from former colonies, mostly in the Caribbean.

Gifford was speaking at a reception to mark the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Kingston recently, two days after Prime Minister Bruce Golding told University of the West Indies students that his government may now be willing to re-evaluate its position on the court.

Golding and his Jamaican Labor Party have always held that the matter of the CCJ should be put to a referendum.

Gifford said the CCJ would produce a better quality of justice than the Privy Council for a number of reasons, including that it consists of seven learned judges from different backgrounds; five from the Caribbean and one each from the U.K. and The Netherlands respectively.

He said the CCJ will be accessible at reasonable costs to litigants as cases are currently heard in Port of Spain, Trinidad, with the option to move around the region.

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