KINGSTON, Jamaica, May 11, CMC – The Jamaica government will table legislation to make the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the island’s final court of appeal.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, delivering the traditional Throne Speech, said that the Portia Simpson-Miller administration intends to table 32 pieces of legislation during this parliamentary year.
“We will considerably improve the number and quality of Bills passed, and will strengthen all stages of the legislative process. During this legislative year, approximately 32 bills will be passed, which would be about twice the average of the last few years.
“The key pieces of legislation to be passed include, An Act to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica’s final Court of Appeal. This process will involve further dialogue with the Opposition,” Sir Patrick said.
Jamaica, like most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have signed on to the orginal jurisdiction of the CCJ that acts as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.
However, only Barbados, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction of the court that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the regional final court.
Trinidad and Tobago earlier this year announced plans for a phased withdrawal from the Privy Council and earlier this year Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said her newly elected government would seek to end the long standing relationship with the London-based court.
She told reporters on Thursday that “the CCJ is critical because Jamaicans, particularly the poor, will never be able to travel to England to get their proper defence.
“The Caribbean Court of Justice is much closer to us in terms of geographic location than going to London, and everyone understands that there are two issues. One, the CCJ that we intend to deal with in consultation with the Opposition and the republic in consultation with the Opposition as well,” she said.
In February 2005, the then PJ Patterson-led PNP Government was forced to put on hold plans to make the CCJ the country’s final appellate court following a UK-based Privy Council ruling.
The then-Opposition JLP and a number of local human rights groups had also protested against the passage of the legislation.
During his address to legislator, Sir Patrick also said that the government is placing priority on preparing and passing legislation establishing Jamaica as a Republic and removing Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its Head of State.
“The Government will be proceeding in this regard through consensus and dialogue with the Opposition,” Sir Patrick said.