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Motley wants entire Caribbean to adopt CCJ as final appeal court

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2015 | 6:00 AM

Barbados Opposition Leader Mia Mottley on Wednesday said she yearns for the day when all countries in the region will sign on to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its appellate jurisdiction.

Motley, who visited Jamaica for the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, ParlAmericas, Inter-American Development Bank conference hosted by the Houses of Parliament on 'Strengthening Legislative Oversight', told The Gleaner that she would, however, not dare suggest the direction Jamaica should take in respect of the court.

"That is a matter that the Jamaican people will have to decide, but suffice it to say that the court has been functioning extremely well, and I trust and pray that one day all Caribbean countries will use it," Mottley said.

Let the people decide

The Jamaican Government has been pushing to have the CCJ replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the country's final court of appeal. However, the parliamentary opposition, which lost in its bid to stop three CCJ bills from passing the House of Representatives, has said that the people should decide, by way of a referendum, if they want the regional court.

The bills are currently in the Senate, but will fail unless a minimum of one opposition senator joins with the 13 government senators in support.

Mottley, a declared regionalist, noted that "Jamaica has already paid the money so it is no additional cost to the Jamaican people to access the court as its final appellate body".

Barbados, Belize, Guyana, and Dominica have replaced the Privy Council with the CCJ as their final court of appeal.

Acrimonious relationship

Meanwhile, Mottley, when asked about the perceived acrimonious relationship between Jamaicans and Barbadians, said that: "Caribbean people see themselves as Caribbean people. I think governments are the ones who try to foster greater nationality. You can foster nationalism at a very high level when you can afford to do it. If you cannot afford to do it, then you have to find ways to deepen functional cooperation," Motley responded.

Tensions between both countries reached a crescendo in 2011 when Jamaican Shanique Myrie was hassled by an immigration officer as she attempted to enter Barbados. The CCJ has since ruled that Myrie's rights to hastle-free travel, as enshrined in the Treaty of Chaguaramas, were breached. Barbados has had to compensate her.

At the height of the stand-off, Motley said that Barbadians "can no longer bury our heads in the sand to the perception that others have of us that Barbados does not treat its Caribbean brothers and sisters and people of African descent fairly and with respect".

Motley told The Gleaner that she feels the relationship between Jamaicans and Barbados is strong.

"I think we should go to each other's country more and mix more. I think it is fundamentally a strong relationship. You will always have problems in the family, and I think you need to step back when you have a problem and fix it in a way that does not burn bridges," said Motley, who calls Jamaica her second home.