November 17, 2015

Senator Falconer Proposes Live Broadcasts of CCJ Hearings - Jamaica Information Service

Senator Falconer Proposes Live Broadcasts of CCJ Hearings - Jamaica Information Service

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, is proposing that live broadcasts or streaming of appeals be considered for use at the Caribbean Court of Justice.This, she said, is in order to “widen and deepen the understanding of the workings of the CCJ.” 

Senator Falconer was making her contribution to the debate on the three Bills to establish the CCJ as Jamaica’s final appellate body in the Senate, on November 13.

Through these Bills, it is the intention of the Government to separate Jamaica from the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council, and to become part of the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction.

Minister Falconer argued that acceding to the CCJ will afford all Jamaicans an equal opportunity for justice. She lamented that access to the Privy Council has been elusive for many Jamaicans, mainly due to the prohibitive costs associated with taking a case to that body.

“It is really the rich, private citizen or the relatively well off private businesses or those appealing death penalty decisions who receive pro bono help from local and English Counsel who can access the Privy Council,” she said.

Senator Falconer  said that in her estimation, the cost of travel and accommodation for the CCJ is about 76 per cent less than that of the Privy Council and the cost of filing documents at the CCJ is 98 per cent less than that of the Privy Council.

The Minister noted that the CCJ is already utilising audio and video conferencing facilities to conduct hearings, so that litigants and their counsel are spared the financial burden of appearing physically in Trinidad, where the court is housed.

“I place considerable weight on arrangements that put ordinary people on the right side of the digital divide and importantly on the right side of the justice system,” the Minister stressed.

She further argued that a final appellate body from, and for the region will be particularly sensitive to the realities of the Caribbean and will properly reflect the status of Caribbean countries as sovereign nations.

The Minister  noted as well that Caribbean judges have unquestionable knowledge  of the nuances of the region’s cultures, philosophies and social constructs.

“My faith in supporting the three Bills which seek to make the CCJ Jamaica’s final appellate court, rests in the certain knowledge that regional judges are erudite and of unquestionable integrity and legal experience,” she said.

The Minister  said  that  based on its track record, there is no doubt that the CCJ will effect positive change in the social order of the Jamaican society by delivering justice which is accessible, visible, efficient and reflective of the country’s values and mores.

“The CCJ is our clear and present opportunity to build our own jurisprudence, framed by our own historical and social experiences and reflective of our values as a people who subscribe to the rule of law. We are at the cusp of another dimension of the fulfilment of our sovereignty. Let us rise to the occasion and complete the task of Jamaica’s accession of that appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ,” she said.

Bills being debated are the Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015; the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 2015, and the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015.

The CCJ Bills were debated and passed on May 12 in the House of Representatives, where the Government enjoys the two-thirds majority needed to have them passed.  The Opposition voted against all three Bills.

The CCJ was established on February 12, 2001 through an agreement signed by the Heads of Government of CARICOM at their 22nd meeting in Nassau. It has two jurisdictions: an appellate and original.

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