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Debate opens on CCJ

Published:Wednesday | November 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday appealed for bipartisan approval of three bills before Parliament seeking to have the Caribbean Court of Justice established as Jamaica's final appellate court.

Her call came even as she knocked the Andrew Holness-led Opposition for being caught up with "self-interest" and not recognising that most Jamaicans cannot access the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.

In opening the debate on the bills, Simpson Miller argued that the Privy Council is fundamentally inaccessible to the vast majority of Jamaicans and that litigants and their Jamaican lawyers need visas to travel to the United Kingdom.

NOT GRANTED AS A RIGHT

Those visas, she noted, are not available or granted as a right.

"The Privy Council is an institution of the United Kingdom Government and it would not be in our interest to entrench in our Constitution an institution that belongs to another sovereign country," the prime minister said.

It requires a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament to secure the passage of the three bills, namely, an act to make provision for the implementation of the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice and for connected matters; an act to amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for the replacement of appeals to Her Majesty in Council, with new provisions for appeals to the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica's final appellate court, and for connected matters; and an act to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act.

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