The Jamaica government says debate on the three bills allowing for the island to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the final appellate court will be debated in the Senate on October 16.
Leader of Government Business, A.J. Nicolson, said the deliberations are among the “most important and far-reaching” to be undertaken by the Senate.
The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, but while many of the Caribbean countries have signed on to the Court’s Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction.
The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Treaty of Chaguaramas that established the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Nicholson said that the debate is equal in importance to the Independence Debate in 1962, which dealt with the proposal for a new Constitution.
“The initiative has to do with the relocation of our final Court of Appeal, from an institution, which has served us since the year 1833 and it concerns the journey to fully “patriate” that third arm or branch of Government, known as the judiciary,” he told legislators.
Nicholson called on all legislators to participate in the debate and “vote at the appropriate and convenient time for the fulfillment of that desire and that requirement”.
“It must be the firm desire of every Senator to have his or her vote recorded in this historic Debate, which really is meant to serve as a platform concerning the character of Jamaica’s system of Government for the future,” Nicolson said.
The CCJ Bills were passed in the Lower House on May 12, with a 42 to 21 vote by all 63 members of the House.
Nicholson noted that the positive vote of at least 14 of the 21 members of the Senate was required for one of the constitutional amendment bills included in the trio of legislation to be passed.
The government said it hopes to get Opposition support for the Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, to repeal provisions for appeals to the Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ.
It is also seeking support for an Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ, as both a court of original jurisdiction to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and International treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction; and,
The third bill seeks to amend the Constitution of Jamaica to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council, and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica’s final court, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate.