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'Jamaicans should decide'

Holness reiterates stance on CCJ as final appellate court

Monday, July 09, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has reiterated the ruling Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) position on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is to reserve the decision to embrace the CCJ for a referendum.

While in opposition, JLP rejected the CCJ as the final appellate jurisdiction.

“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 that, at the appropriate time, this is a matter that the Jamaican people should speak on in a referendum, and that is our position.. it has not changed,” Holness said.

All Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries have accepted the original jurisdiction of the CCJ in relation to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, but only five have endorsed the court as their final appellate jurisdiction.

Last week, during the installation of Justice Adrian Saunders as the new president of the CCJ, Prime Minister Holness argued that under Saunders' leadership the rights of Caribbean people will continue to be guarded.

“I am fully confident that, based on your commendable professional experience and personal attributes, you will discharge your functions in this new role with distinction and integrity,” the prime minister said at the swearing-in ceremony at Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, last Wednesday.

At a press conference at the end of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom at Montego Bay Convention Centre on Friday, Holness said he was sincere in his praise of the CCJ.

“The CCJ is an important organ of functional cooperation of Caricom. Every word that I have said at the swearing-in of the new president of the CCJ, I meant it. There is no question about the quality of their judgement, the jurisprudence they are developing, and the importance of the institution in its original jurisdiction,” he said. “ It is important for the functioning of the regional integration process and we stand by that, we support that.

“But our position has not changed as it relates to the appellate jurisdiction and we stand by that, and we support that,” Holness insisted.

Meanwhile, St Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet stated that his stance is similar to Holness' on the CCJ as his country's final appellate jurisdiction.

“In Opposition we had a particular position, as a party we maintain that position. As I indicated, as important as the CCJ is... it is not on my priority or my Government's priority [list] at this point,” Chastanet shared.

But he was quick to note that: “I think coming out of this meeting it is something that we will always continue to give consideration to.

“At the appropriate time we will make an announcement, but right now we are very much focused on growing our economy, resolving the high unemployment rate that we have, resolving the debt problem that we have, and putting ourselves in a more financially viable position,” the St Lucian prime minister remarked.

— Horace Hines

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