The House of Representatives is to vote on the Bills making the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final court of appeal for Jamaica, on April 28. After the Bills have been debated in the Lower House, there is a time period of three months before a vote can be taken.
Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller closed the debate on the legislation on Tuesday, January 20, after contributions from other Members of Parliament, including the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, were given.
In her contribution, Mrs. Simpson Miller urged the Opposition to support passage of the Bills. “Under our system of government, Bills that are brought to Parliament are required to be supported unless there is some international convention or agreement that will be breached by the passage of the Bill,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
She further noted that lawmakers should not invent partisan reasons not to support a Bill that is brought to the Parliament.
“It is expected that the right thing will be done by the Opposition in the interest of the Jamaican people, particularly the poor,” the Prime Minister said.
Commenting on the financial arrangement for the Court, she informed that the Court is financed through the Caribbean Court of Justice Fund, which was signed by CARICOM Heads of Government and became effective January 27, 2004.
“The purpose of the Trust Fund is to provide the resources necessary to finance the capital and operating budgets of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission in perpetuity,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
She added that the agreement directs the Board of Trustees to review the adequacy of the resources of the Fund, starting in 2006 and every two years thereafter, and to report to the Heads of Government on the results of the review.
The Prime Minister informed that the Trustees presented the first report in July 2006, and four subsequent reports thereafter in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“I have been advised that based on the fifth such report on the adequacy of the trust fund prepared in 2014 by the Board of Trustees of the CCJ, the fund has comfortably covered the expenses of both the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission for the first 10 years of its operation up to 2014,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
For his part, Mr. Holness reiterated the Opposition’s position of being in favour of a final Court of Appeal here in Jamaica.
The three CCJ Bills are: ‘An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act’, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act to repeal provisions for appeals to the Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ; ‘An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica, to amend Section 110 of the Constitution to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica’s final court’; and ‘An Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ as both a court of original jurisdiction, to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and International treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction’. The Government needs a two-thirds majority vote in both Houses of Parliament to pass the Bills.
Source: Jamaica Information Service