Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness yesterday told Labourites at his party's annual conference in Kingston that the party had no interest in abandoning the United Kingdom-based Privy Council and going the route of the CCJ.
"This is an example of how not to use foreign policy. One of our greatest assets is that our final court is an internationally recognised court of arbitration and appeal and we want to tek weh ourselves from it.
"We are not serious about investment, things not going so well in CARICOM, our citizens are being treated with disrespect and yet we want to go and further intensify our ties with CARICOM. I say no to that!" said Holness.
"We have been so wrapped up in CARICOM and, let me tell you, I am a Caribbean man, but I am a Jamaican man first. I believe that a weak Jamaica cannot make a strong CARICOM, and the way in which we are structured now we would have to take a very close look at our continued participation in CARICOM," Holness added.
He claimed CARICOM had rules that would allow Jamaica to temporarily halt its participation in the regional trade bloc until the country "gets its house in order and the Jamaica Labour Party is prepared to look at that".
"Mek we sort out CARICOM first, mek we build our economy first before we start to pretend that we big, bad and politically independent. We must now seek to secure our economic independence because it is in our economic independence that we will truly be able to secure our political independence," Holness declared.
The JLP had previously called for a national referendum to decide on the country's move towards the CCJ as its final court of appeal.
The People’s National Party government has two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, and it is expected that the bills will be passed there.
However, a senior PNP authority on the matter, A. J. Nicholson said “it is required that two thirds majority be given in each House so that the Privy Council has said for us to be part of the CCJ”.
But Nicholson acknowledged that the PNP needed at least one vote to ensure the two-thirds majority in the Senate adding “and we hope, pray and expect that they will come to their senses once and for all”.
In its Editorial on Sunday, Jamaica's 180 year old newspaper the Daily Gleaner said "the court has proved itself to be independent and jurisprudentially sound. Additionally, there is no court in the world with greater insulation from political interference than the CCJ.
The CCJ is, in part, a final act of sovereignty by the Caribbean collective; the repatriation of an important symbol of their independence. But the action also has practical value. It is likely to be cheaper for Caribbean people to avail themselves of a regional court, especially one that is itinerant... The point is that for nearly 300 years, the UK-based Privy Council has served Jamaica and its regional neighbours well, but in limited fashion.
[However] distance, cost and other factors, including socio-economic ones, have made it available primarily only to the wealthy and people convicted of murder, who, often, can count on pro bono representation," the Gleaner concluded.
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