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Editorial: Compromise on CCJ

Published:Monday | August 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Frankly, we would not frown on any member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the Senate if he broke ranks and voted with the Government on the constitutional amendments to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), whenever that vote is taken. In the absence of another option to have the bill passed now, we would welcome it.

In such an event, the dissident would not need to feel badly, given the ruling by the Jamaican court that asserted the independence of senators, without fear of ejection from the legislature by an aggrieved party leader, such as was the JLP's Andrew Holness, when he used pre-signed, undated letters of resignation to purportedly remove Arthur Williams and Christopher Tufton from the Upper House during intra-party contretemps.

We would, however, prefer that it didn't come to that. It would be sensible if Mr Holness freed his party from a policy that we genuinely believe is sustained, if not solely, substantially, by hubris. For the logic in favour of Jamaica's accession to the civil and criminal jurisdiction, as was further underlined by recent remarks in Kingston by the former Barbadian prime minister, Owen Arthur, is unassailable.

Said Mr Arthur: "The notion of the Caribbean looking to Britain to provide justice for us is, I believe, elevating the people who serve on the British courts to a level of superiority in their jurisprudence that is not worthwhile."

That supposition does not end with the people who dispense justice in Britain compared with the Caribbean. It would be applicable to all facets of life, which we do not believe would be a presumption of Mr Holness. But retreating from hardened positions is never easy for anyone, and, we assume, harder for politicians.

But Mr Holness is aware of the adage that politics often is the art of the possible, which, we expect, is an act he has reprised often enough. In the event, therefore, Mr Holness should make his party's support for the CCJ possible. To put it bluntly, this newspaper believes that he should horse-trade with the Government on the matter.

And in this case, it should be easier to disengage.

 

No compelling argument from JLP

 

The JLP has offered no compelling argument against Jamaica joining the CCJ - for which Jamaica has already paid a substantial sum and the quality of whose jurisprudence is widely acclaimed - and retaining the Privy Council, except for some nebulous notions against regionalism and a recommendation that the matter be determined by a referendum, which is not a requirement of the Constitution.

Further, as he revealed in his series of articles in this newspaper, Bruce Golding, Mr Holness' predecessor as party leader, has all but dropped his opposition to the court. Frankly, Mr Holness' and the party's continued opposition to the CCJ is something akin to an old family feud over which both sides continue to fight without anyone remembering why.

It is a matter that Mr Holness should put to rest, but for which he might extract something from the Government; perhaps some policy initiative that the administration is not, at this time, overly keen to pursue but is important to the JLP and on which both sides can agree.