LETTER OF THE DAY - Seaga wrong on CCJ
The Editor, Sir:I refer to a recent column by former Prime Minister Mr Edward Seaga, regarding the replacement of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
In my view, the fundamental question is not whether the change would cause an improvement, but whether the change would benefit the citizens of Jamaica.
The answer is yes, because the process would be more affordable for Jamaican citizens to carry their appeals to the CCJ than is now the case with the JCPC.
No one is disputing the long history or high-quality jurisprudence that the JCPC has demonstrated over the years, but judges at the JCPC do not have a monopoly on legal learning and they are not infallible.
Jurists of comparable calibre have been produced and are still being produced in the Caribbean.
The implication that the JCPC pays a critical role in cementing international commitments is probably exaggerating its role, because while some international entities would prefer dealing with the JCPC, I don't think countries in the region, like Barbados and Guyana, are greatly disadvantaged because of the change to the CCJ.
If Mr Seaga is concerned about the deep entrenchment to which he refers, why hasn't he persuaded his protégé, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, to cooperate with the Government to produce a two-thirds vote in the Senate? Or does Mr Seaga believe, like former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, that Jamaica should set up its own court of last resort?
That approach would obviously draw from a narrower pool of jurists and further burden the overladen Jamaican budget.
Mr Seaga is also ignoring the recent admonition from former president of the Supreme Court of England, Lord Phillips, that countries should set up their own final courts of appeal instead of continuing to send cases to the JCPC.
It is surprising that Mr Seaga has no confidence that regional jurists on the CCJ can be depended on to render justice to citizens of the region, but obviously prefers to depend on colonial ones who have no great interest in serving the people of the Caribbean.
Stanley C. Tracey