KINGSTON, Jamaica July 5, 2022 - The Peoples National Party has endorsed what it says is the timely statement of former President of the Court of Appeal the Hon Seymour Panton, regarding the need for Jamaica to accede to the Caribbean Court of Justice and repudiates the continuing belittlement of the CCJ by members of the current administration, ignoring the fact that the quality of jurists and jurisprudence have been demonstrably upheld in the past seventeen years.
In a statement today, Opposition spokesperson on Justice and Information, Senator Donna Scott Mottley called for the resurrection of the three bills tabled by the then Minister of Justice Mark Golding in 2015, which if passed would have allowed Jamaica to accede to the CCJ.
According to Senator Scott Mottley, The objective of the three bills entitled “The Constitution (Amendment) Caribbean Court of Justice Act 2015”, “The Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act 2015 and “The Caribbean Court of Justice Act 2015” to Parliament, was to replace the colonial Privy Council in England with the Caribbean Court of Justice, an itinerant court based in Trinidad and Tobago, to which Jamaica contributed US$27 million towards its establishment.
Had the then PNP Government been able to secure the vote of even a single Opposition Senator in 2015, Jamaica would have been a part of the CCJ today.
Senator Scott-Mottley reminded Mr. Panton at the vote aimed at passing the Bills, there was no support forthcoming from the JLP because the present Prime Minister, then Leader of the Opposition, required the eight Opposition Senators to pre-sign undated letters of resignation to prevent Parliamentary support for the CCJ.
His conduct was later deemed by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to be unconstitutional, and the letters null and void and of no legal effect.
She pointed out that since then and following the change of administration in February 2016, the JLP government has never once made any attempt to advance the process of moving towards the CCJ, despite several urgings and a pre-election promise by them of a referendum.
The PNP Government 2015, in presenting the bills, said the CCJ was a pressing imperative as Jamaica was maturing as an independent nation taking decisions and implementing actions to secure a brighter future for its people. The government further asserted that it was time to find the self-confidence to be truly independent of its former colonial master.
Therefore, the People’s National Party rejects any notion or assertion that it bears equal responsibility with the Jamaica Labour Party for the continued inexplicable delay in leaving the JCPC and establishing the CCJ as our final appellate court.
It is important to tag the responsibility where it lies if progress is to be resumed and critical decisions are taken. The fact is the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Hon. Andrew Holness does not support the CCJ. His Party and himself seem to believe superior justice flows from the London Privy Council instead of the CCJ despite 17 years of unblemished record.
The PNP has called for the resurrection and quick passage of the three bills tabled in 2015. We believe the stars are now aligned for change and the Jamaican people now have a heightened sense of the need to assert our independence and self-dignity.
Addressing past and current members of the judiciary at the 60th anniversary of the Court of Appeal Wednesday evening at the Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, Panton described Jamaica's final court as an anachronism.
He warned that the national psyche is being “adversely affected by this stubborn attachment to the Privy Council.
“The policymakers should start thinking what they will tell their grandchildren in relation to this fond attachment,” he said.
Referencing Namibia, whose leader cancelled his visit to Jamaica this week to deal with domestic strife back home, Panton said the African country with a population of 2.6 million people got its independence 32 years ago.
He noted that “they have not outsourced their judicial business to their former colonial masters”.
He said that Jamaica could also learn lessons from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, pointing out that those three countries were attached to the Privy Council but have severed ties.
However, he noted that the citizens from those countries can “just walk into the United Kingdom anytime”.
He said that Jamaica has the Privy Council as its final court, yet its citizens have to “pay expensively and line up to receive or be denied a visa to go to the United Kingdom and our parliamentarians, all of them, need to process these matters in their minds.
“The parliamentarians need to wake up and think on these things,” Panton declared.