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CCJ critics clutching at straws

Published:Friday | October 23, 2015 | 11:49 AM


IT SEEMS clearer each day that Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) opponents are becoming increasingly desperate. In the Senate, some opposition senators continue calling for the very referendum that was clearly unnecessary for the Jamaica Labour Party when in government - neither for the final appellate court nor for the Charter of Rights. Yet now they have seemingly rediscovered a love for referenda.

Then one opposition senator becomes so strident, she willingly risked suspension from the Senate after abusing the rules and being contemptuous of the very body in which she sits. This is unsurprising, given that she readily signed one of those undated letters of resignation, which, as the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal found, would have made a mockery of the Senate's independence. In risking suspension, she also risked derailing the Senate debate on the CCJ. But then, perhaps that was the real aim of her behaviour.

Desperation is also seen in one of the major daily newspapers that continues what seems to be its anti-CCJ/pro-Privy Council campaign. Within a few days, that publication ran a headline story out of a letter to the former JLP government from the Privy Council that was first reported 10 months ago in The Gleaner by Edward Seaga in his column of Sunday, December 14, 2014, and then ran a front-page editorial castigating senators for daring to even consider doing what is their right under the Constitution.

While repeating old news, that publication seemingly forgot to inform the public that the Privy Council is willing to visit any country, but it has certain conditions: First, it must receive an official invitation from the chief judge and the government of the country concerned (risk of political interference in decisions to extend an invite?). Second, the full costs of the visit (including airfare, lodging and all other relevant costs) must be borne by the host government (and thus taxpayers). Finally, there must be "sufficient work to justify such a visit".

On the other hand, the CCJ travelled to Jamaica to hear Myrie's case purely on the basis of needing to hear evidence in person in her single case, and the CCJ paid for the costs of the sitting, including airfare, accommodation and other expenses, and needed no government to invite it to hear the case of an appellant who had the right of appeal before it.