Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Letter of the day: PNP must impose CCJ mandate

Published:Saturday | May 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
CCJ President Dennis Byron (right) departs the Jamaica Conference Centre after a session of the Shanique Myrie case


The United Kingdom Conservative Party has just won the recent elections with a majority of 12 but considers this a mandate to press forward with constitutional changes.

Jamaica's People's National Party (PNP) has a 2:1 majority in the Lower House but seems too scared to take the necessary actions to implement its manifesto commitment to replace the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems clear to me that if the PNP wants to exercise its democratic mandate, it can do so through completely legal actions. The first step is to amend the bill when it reaches the Senate to dispense with appeals to the Privy Council as soon as the bill receives royal assent. The law lords have conceded that a simple majority will suffice for this.

This would leave it up to the Opposition whether it wants to vote down the other two bills and leave the Jamaican Court of Appeal as the final appellate body.

The Government could now do either of the following:

a) Go to the people with a referendum with confidence that the electorate will support having another level of protection.

b) Pass legislation giving citizens the right of appeal to the CCJ and simultaneously requiring all organs of state to give effect to rulings of the body. I seemed to remember us having such a relationship with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Once people start to use the court, they are more likely to support entrenchment.

Of course, those who oppose will be up in arms and crying foul, but that is how democracy works. The PNP has the mandate. Is it strong enough to exercise it?

It would be interesting to hear the opinions of our legal or constitutional experts.


Birmingham, England