On points raised in the CCJ debate
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The most important point raised in the Senate debate is that, as a final court, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) should be deeply entrenched in the Constitution. This is a commendable position, which was recognised by all the parties to the agreement establishing the court.
It is, however, not a good argument for voting to reject the acceptance of the appellate jurisdiction of the Court. As it will be ordinarily entrenched, it will have the same substantial protection which our Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have.
Moreover, the Privy Council is not entrenched and the retention of its jurisdiction is not only subject to the will and pleasure of non-Caribbean politicians, but can be abolished by ordinary legislation.
The second point raised is that any Caribbean government can withdraw from the CCJ by giving three years' notice. It is very unlikely that there will be any spate of withdrawals in the future. The fact is that Jamaica can now withdraw from or be denied access to the Privy Council by ordinary legislation, and so can several other Caribbean states. It should be noted that the Caribbean states which are now parties to the agreement cannot withdraw the financial contribution they have already made.
The question was asked as to whether Jamaican people want the CCJ. A parallel question should be whether the Jamaican people want the Privy Council. What do the senators wish? More important, what do they consider to be in the best interest of the Jamaican people? Is it the case that after 50 years of Independence and 10 years of existence of the CCJ, our legislators do not have any idea what the Jamaican people want, and are not prepared to say what is in the best interest of the people of Jamaica?
The question of the enforcement of CCJ judgements has been raised by reference to the Shanique Myrie case.
This is due to a lack of understanding of the fact that the CCJ has an original jurisdiction in relation to regional treaty provisions. In this respect, it is an international court that is administering international law where the enforcement of judgements poses peculiar challenges.
In any event, it should be noted that in the Myrie case, the award of compensation was paid and the issue of delays relates to costs. The attorneys for Myrie did not invoke the prescribed procedure for taxation of costs until one year had elapsed, presumably because they were in negotiations with the Barbados government and hoped for a settlement. Insofar as the appellate jurisdiction is concerned, the CCJ would be in the same position as the Privy Council and its judgements would be enforceable as part of the domestic legal system.