Jamaica to abolish appeals to Privy Council this year
Edmond Campbell, Senior Gleaner Writer
By the end of the Parliamentary year, Jamaicans could bid farewell to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said an act to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final court is among 32 new laws the Government wants to pass this year.
The Governor General said the 32 bills to be passed this year, would be twice the average of the last few years.
There has been exhaustive debate for more than a decade, over proposals for the country to embrace the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction and relinquish ties with the UK-based Privy Council.
At present, only Barbados, Belize and Guyana have replaced the Privy Council with the CCJ.
And, now the Governor General said it’s time for Jamaica to become a republic.
Legislation to establish a single anti-corruption agency to fight corruption is also on the card.
Delivering the Throne Speech, Sir Patrick indicated said that the agency would have “strong powers” but noted that there would be explicit provisions to prevent abuse of its authority.
The Contractor General Greg Christie has consistently agitated for a merger of the Corruption Prevention Commission, the Integrity Commission and the Office of the Contractor General under a single umbrella, with prosecutorial powers to effectively tackle the scourge of corruption plaguing the country.
In a recent Gleaner interview Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr. Omar Davies said it was dangerous to have a single anti-corruption agency as proposed by Christie.
The introducing of a statute to amend the Evidence Act to allow video-recorded evidence in court, as well as DNA evidence will also be passed this year.
The proposed amendment to the Evidence Act also seeks to secure evidence from remote locations by way of a live link.
It is believed that this approach to securing evidence would serve to protect vulnerable witnesses and facilitate witnesses who are overseas.
Sir Patrick said the proposed law would eliminate various outdated evidential requirements, which slowed down and increase the costs of criminal trials.
He also said the Government would considerably improve the number and quality of bills passed and strengthen all stages of the legislative process.