Senators hold party positions as CCJ debate begins
The Senate debate of three bills to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica’s final court began this morning with Senators maintaining the positions held by their respective parties.
So far two government senators and two from the opposition benches have put forward arguments.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, who opened the debate, stressed that many Jamaicans currently do not have access to the Privy Council because of the prohibitive costs associated with securing visas, air travel, accommodation in London and legal fees.
Arguing against the setting up a local final court, Golding noted that the CCJ is already fully funded and Jamaica cannot afford a court of its own at this time.
But he said the Government would be willing to explore the idea in the future if the economy is built to a level where it can accommodate such a court:
Golding's colleague government senator, KD Knight said it would be madness to say no to the three Bills.
He also said there was no need for a referendum, as is being demanded by the Opposition.
But Opposition senator, Alexander Williams, said he was not prepared to take the risk of foisting the CCJ on Jamaicans without knowing whether they want it.
He is insisting that a referendum must be held on the issue.
He also expressed fear that the independence of the court could be affected by simple changes to the CCJ agreement by regional governments.
Meanwhile, another opposition senator, Kavan Gayle, expressed concern about the fact that countries are free to leave the CCJ, giving only three years’ notice:
Debate on the Bills have been suspended until the next sitting of the Senate.