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CCJ bills to be debated next week

Published:Thursday | November 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

After being in the House of Representatives since 2012, three bills that are seeking to have the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) established as Jamaica's final appellate court will now be debated.

Phillip Paulwell, the Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, said on Tuesday that the debate is to commence next Tuesday.

Three CCJ bills are currently on the table of the House awaiting debate. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gave notice of second reading of the bills on April 23 last year. With the proposed legislation seeking to amend an entrenched section of the Constitution, the bill must sit on the table of the House for three months before debate.

The parliamentary opposition has indicated it will not be supporting the bills, insisting the issue should be put before the people in a referendum. The bills have fallen off the order paper twice, and have been brought back.

First reading

One and a half years ago, in the latest attempt to have the bills debated, Prime Minister Simpson Miller moved first reading of the bills, but they have been languishing on the order paper ever since.

The three pieces of legislation in question are: "An act to Make provisions for the implementation of the Agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice; an Act to amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for the replacement of appeals to Her Majesty in Council with new provisions for appeals to the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica's final appellate court; and "An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act".

Successful passage of the bills require two-third's support in both houses of Parliament. The Government has a solid two-thirds membership in the House of Representatives, but would need to swing at least one opposition senator to ensure passage.