Holness, the CCJ and the constitution

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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Dear Editor,

On July 9, 2018 the Jamaica Observer carried article, 'Jamaicans should decide', which read: “While in Opposition, JLP [Jamaica Labour Party] rejected the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justice] as the final appellate jurisdiction.”

It then quote Prime Minister Andrew Holness as saying “Our position has not changed as it relates to the appellate jurisdiction. And, as we have said when we were in Opposition, we maintain our position in Government...this is a matter that the Jamaican people should speak on in a referendum.” This seems again like a disregard for the Jamaican Constitution.

Prime Minister Holness suffered no sanction in breaching the constitution, as declared by our Supreme Court in connection with those pre-signed letters before members of his party could be appointed senators. Some people still believe he breached the constitution when he appointed the present chief justice on a probation basis. Now we see where he has unconstitutionally delegating his duty to the Cabinet in deciding what action to be taken against Minister Andrew Wheatley.

I say all this as he continues to flout the provisions of the constitution when he repeats that his party would want to call for a referendum to decide on the CCJ. The constitutions does not require it.

The continued misbehaviour of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in disregarding the constitution without sanction, is no different from some judges also misbehaving and operating as lawmakers, without sanction, as they dispense justice.

The obvious solution is that there must be institution(s) entirely independent of political influence to deal with indiscipline and interpret constitutional provisions for sanctions of parliamentarians, including chief servants. All these must be buttressed by regulations, as well as publishing periodic reports of reported breaches and actions taken.

The prime minister is an intelligent man, but is he displaying intelligence in not respecting the constitution and not accepting the fact that things done by half-will never be done right. He and his party endorses the CCJ as competent to deal with certain legal matters, but not in others.

Let the CCJ not only be accepted as our final Court of Appeal, but be seen as another step towards our legal independence as envisaged by the framers of the constitution without delay.

Owen S Crosbie

Mandeville, Manchester

oscrosbie123@gmail.com

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