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Peter Phillips wants greater oversight of judiciary

Published:Monday | March 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips speaks during the Budget Debate at a sitting of the House of Representatives in Kingston on Thursday, March 15.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips is pushing for the Judicial Services Commission to provide greater oversight of the judiciary.

During his contribution to the 2018-19 Budget Debate, last Thursday, Phillips said it had been put forward in a 1993 report on judicial reform that the Judicial Services Commission should be reviewed so that it could perform greater oversight for the standards of performance of judges.

"So we don't disagree when the prime minister made his what I would call a wrong move the other day with the probationary appointment of the chief justice. We agree with the objective of greater judicial accountability, but that is not the way to approach it," Phillips said.

Last month, a decision by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to advise Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to appoint Justice Bryan Sykes to act as chief justice ignited controversy.

While Holness maintained that he had no intention of interfering with the independence of the judiciary, he was adamant that there has to be accountability for the use of taxpayers' funds.

"We want to see an improvement and strengthening in the rule of law and timely justice outcomes, and the chief justice will be accountable for this. I can't be any clearer. Those who want to criticise have the luxury of doing it. I have the luxury of running a country and being accountable to the taxpayers for the results of the systems that we are elected to run," he explained then.

In the aftermath, however, Sykes was subsequently appointed chief justice by the governor general, acting on the advice of the prime minister.