Holness says no to CCJ
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
TWO DAYS before the House of Representatives begins debate on three bills to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica's final court of appeal, it appears the parliamentary Opposition has temporarily shut the door on the regional court.
The parliamentary Opposition had previously called for a national referendum to decide on the country's move towards the CCJ as its final court of appeal.
However, in his presentation yesterday to Labourites at the party's annual conference at the National Arena, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness indicated that the party had no interest in abandoning the United Kingdom-based Privy Council and going the route of the CCJ - at least for now.
Making reference to the upcoming debate on the CCJ bills, Holness asserted: "This is an example of how not to use foreign policy. One of our greatest assets is that our final court is an internationally recognised court of arbitration and appeal and we want to tek weh ourselves from it.
"We are not serious about investment, things not going so well in CARICOM, our citizens are being treated with disrespect and yet we want to go and further intensify our ties with CARICOM. I say no to that!" Holness declared to a wave of party support.
He pledged that the JLP would use its foreign policy to influence economic growth and development in Jamaica.
NEED TO EXAMINE ROLE
"We have been so wrapped up in CARICOM and, let me tell you, I am a Caribbean man, but I am a Jamaican man first. I believe that a weak Jamaica cannot make a strong CARICOM, and the way in which we are structured now we would have to take a very close look at our continued participation in CARICOM," Holness added.
He highlighted that CARICOM had rules that would allow Jamaica to temporarily halt its participation in the regional trade bloc until the country "gets its house in order and the Jamaica Labour Party is prepared to look at that".
"Mek we sort out CARICOM first, mek we build our economy first before we start to pretend that we big, bad and politically independent. We must now seek to secure our economic independence because it is in our economic independence that we will truly be able to secure our political independence," the opposition leader insisted.