Sun | May 28, 2017

Letter of the day: Ignore Mason's CCJ rant

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2015 | 9:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Your columnist Ronald Mason made the utterly unhelpful suggestion in one of his offerings in your newspaper some time ago that instead of moving to subscribe fully to the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), we in Jamaica should seriously consider approaching the Canadian authorities to ask them whether they would allow us to make use of their Supreme Court as our final court of appeal.

He clearly saw nothing wrong with the requirement of a visa, among other impediments, to gain access to one of our courts.

Since that time, I have stubbornly refused to take seriously anything that he writes. Therefore, I was certainly not surprised at the heresy that he offered in his piece in The Sunday Gleaner of September 20.

"There is no such thing as a Caribbean person," said Mr Mason. So, all who, over time, have regarded individuals such as Sir Frank Worrell and Rex Nettleford, for example, as Caribbean persons, have clearly been way off the mark.

Mr Mason is an attorney-at-law who has found all manner of tired and obtuse reasons to rail against the CCJ. Is he suggesting that we throw out the window the well-thought-out conclusions arrived at by his professional body, the Jamaican Bar Association, on this issue?

The membership of the Bar Association would certainly have taken into consideration Jamaica's place within CARICOM after divesting themselves of the ghost of the aborted federation experiment in 1961. Mr Mason should quickly, if belatedly, do the same.

The position of the Bar Association makes eminent sense. They argue, inter alia, that the integrity of the CCJ as an institution is acknowledged to be beyond question; that its judgments are of the highest quality; that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has ruled that what is now required for Jamaica to subscribe fully to the CCJ is a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate; that such a move would undoubtedly be, at least, a convenient, visionary interim step, assuming that the ideal is for our final court to eventually come to be fixed on Jamaican soil.

Mason wishes the initiative to fail in the Senate. His professional body has, however, strongly advocated for a positive vote to allow the vast majority of our people, like Shanique Myrie was privileged to do, the opportunity of petitioning their final court of appeal, if they so wish.

There can be no doubt that the reasoning and the lofty vision of the Jamaican Bar Association are to be preferred to the dated thinking of Ronald Mason. The People's National Party Youth Organisation respectfully commends the empowering reasoning of the Bar Association to the 21 senators when the vote comes to be taken next month.

ANDRAE BLAIR

President, PNPYO