January 02, 2012

JFJ: Referendum for CCJ

JFJ: Referendum for CCJ
Source: Jamaica Gleaner/ Power 106 News

Human rights advocates, Jamaicans for Justice (JF), are maintaining that Government must conduct a referendum to determine whether to set up the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

Executive Director of JFJ, Dr. Carolyn Gomes, says the matter is too important to not allow citizens to have a say in whether to establish the CCJ as Jamaica's final appellate court.

Dr. Gomes was responding to intentions outlined by the People’s National Party (PNP) in today’s Gleaner, to have the CCJ established in both the original and appellate jurisdictions, in time for the country’s 50th Independence celebrations this year.

If the PNP is successful, the CCJ will replace the London-based Privy Council as Jamaica’s final appellate court.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General in the former PNP administration, A.J. Nicholson, said given the softening of the Jamaica Labour Party’s stance on the issue, he was confident that the move would be supported by both Houses of Parliament.

However, Dr. Gomes maintains that there are still several issues, particularly regarding the security of the court, that remain a serious cause for concern.

She argues that CCJ Agreement, which establishes the court, can be easily altered by a simple majority of CARICOM prime ministers.

She notes that there was in fact a recent alteration of the Agreement, to amend the terms of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the regional body which appoints judges to the court.

The move to institute the CCJ as Jamaica’s final appellate court was an effort commenced by the former P.J. Patterson-led PNP Government, but was strongly opposed by the Edward Seaga- led Opposition, the Jamaica Labour Party.

To date only Barbados, Belize, and Guyana have replaced the Privy Council with the CCJ.

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have failed to establish the CCJ as their final court of appeal because of continuing disagreements in both countries.

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