Let's be mature about CCJ
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am pleading with both sides of the House to deal with the issue of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) with the highest level of maturity. I welcome the debate on the bill in making the CCJ our final court of appeal. I strongly believe that Jamaica should leave the Privy Council and make the CCJ our final court of appeal. While there is no requirement from the Constitution to have a referendum, it is very possible that a compromise can be struck on this issue. With the proper education about the CCJ, even if it is politicised doesn't mean the people will vote against it.
The position of Golding's Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) seems to be very much different from Holness' JLP on the CCJ. While Golding called for a referendum, Mr Holness' utterances seem to be an ultimate no to the CCJ. The JLP must make its position known to the people and the Government.
In fact, nothing is wrong with politics once it is done in order with the good of the people at the centre of all decisions. Politics is the art of decision making, so if the Government wants Jamaica to leave the Privy Council, a referendum should be called as a form of compromise because I really do not foresee any Opposition senator voting against their party's core heart. Our senators are not that mature!
What I would love for the Government to do, then, is start to educate the people about the CCJ. The average citizen needs to be told that Jamaica is already contributing to the running of the CCJ; we need to be told the real cost associated with going the Privy Council and that it is completely ludicrous that we have to apply for a United Kingdom (UK) visa before we can get justice.
Those of us who have applied for a UK visa know how tedious and time-consuming the process is, and if you do not have a credit card, you cannot pay for the application fees online. Justice cannot be only for those with UK visas and credit cards! Just the thought of applying for a visa to go to the court to get justice is very much vexing.
The Government needs to tell the people that the CCJ is an itinerant court, meaning it is a travelling court. So, for those of us who are misinformed that we might get turn back from Trinidad's Piarco, there is actually no fear - the court will come to Jamaica for hearings, and it was this very same court that dealt with a case in regard to freedom of movement in the region.
On that note, Madam Prime Minister, start the campaign by educating, educating and educating the average man. So if there should be a compromise at the end of the debate, we surely will vote 'yes' to the CCJ, and if the JLP's appointed senator should vote 'no', history will absolve you because you tried.
Department of History and Philosophy
University of the West Indies,
Cave Hill Campus, Barbados