Golding reiterates call for CCJ as final court for Jamaica

September 18, 2023
Photo by Nicholas Nunes

The leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Mark Golding, says the opposition has no intention of becoming a republic while retaining the London-based Privy Council as the Jamaica’s highest court.

“As a first step, we must reform our constitution to complete the decolonisation process. We in the PNP have no interest in moving to a republic while retaining the King’s Privy Council in London as Jamaica’s final court. Time come for full decolonisation,” Golding told the PNP’s annual conference on Sunday.

Jamaica was among 10 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that on February 14, 2001 signed the agreement establishing the Trinidad-based CCJ to replace the Privy Council as the region’s highest and final court.

However, while Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are members of both the Appellate and Original jurisdictions of the Court, Jamaica is only a member of the Original Jurisdiction that also serves as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

“Jamaicans need a final court where they don’t need a visa to go there, and where the costs are not way out of their reach. Time come for a Jamaican head of State and the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final court. We will support both moving forward together. We have no interest in one without the other,” Golding told party supporters.

He later told reporters that the PNP’s position would not be changed even if during the constitutional reform process,  if the issues of the CCJ and a Jamaican head of State were not twinned.

“I don’t really want to put that on the table at this time, but we really have little interest with proceeding with one and not the other. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

“The Privy Council came out of slavery and, as part of moving forward, we need to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice which Jamaica helped to design, helped to finance, and we have a judge on the court.

“It is an excellent court, it has been well received internationally for the quality of its judgments, and we’re depriving our people of access to justice, so we have no interest in moving forward without it. What that ultimately means for voting in Parliament, I don’t want to get into that today,” Golding told reporters.

He said that the PNP would not withdraw from participating in the reform process, reminding reporters that the PNP sat out two meetings of the committee after the government, in July, tabled in Parliament and used its majority to pass the Constitution (Amendment of Sections 96[1] and 121[1]) Act, 2023, which moves the retirement age of the director of public prosecutions and the auditor general from 60 to 65 without any prior consultation with the Opposition or the Constitutional Reform Committee.

Golding said that while the PNP was disappointed at yet another display of “arrogance and bad governance” by the government “we decided to take that matter to court….we’ve resumed our role on the committee and we will continue to participate on it unless something else happens which causes us concern”.

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