Sat | Aug 18, 2018

CCJ no priority for average man

Published:Friday | February 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM


I read in earnest the commentary of learned attorney, Ashley-Ann Foster, regarding the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). She hearkens to the famous 1987 speech of former US President Ronald Reagan, who at ground zero of the Iron Curtain urged Soviet Russia to change course: "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I believe another analogy is more appropriate. It stems from sacred text. Nehemiah, cupbearer to the King of Persia, wept when he learned of the state of Jerusalem. Ever distraught, he left his position and led the effort to rebuild the wall.

Jamaica is, indeed, in need of rebuilding. The CCJ is the least of our worries.

Nevertheless, concerns about joining the CCJ cannot be categorically dismissed. Why can't we build our own court of last resort? Ms Foster responds that the process would be untenable and time-consuming. She appeals to the support of the Bar associations. She talks of a "Caribbean law" for a "Caribbean people".

These are excuses, not reasons. National institutions are not born by accident. They take blood, sweat, tears, and yes, years. Surely, together we can write the vision and make it plain, charting a justice system for a truly sovereign Jamaica. If we are not up for the challenge, we do not trust ourselves as a people.

We must also bear in mind that, to place much value in Caribbean-ness diminishes the very fact that the Caribbean is a melting pot of different cultures, values, and influences. Nationalism, not regionalism, must be our first principle.

But let us not make the CCJ or any appellate court issue for that matter, be our priority. There are more significant, foundational issues for the Government to address. I can name three: health care, education, and economic development. Every waking hour of our policymakers, of our legislators, must be laser-focused on these three themes.

We have no time to waste. My family in rural Manchester is clamouring not for the CCJ or the Privy Council, but for paved roads, reliable water, and decent jobs! Let us hold the Government to account!

We must build our nation from the ground up - on solid rock and not on sinking sand.


Juris Doctor,

Master of Theological Studies