Friday, November 13, 2015

The CCJ: "the will of the PNP"


  • There has been talk of  behind-the- scenes moves aimed at breaking the deadlock over the three CCJ Bills.
  • A proposed Agreement was to operate on two levels: the Government and the Opposition one one level  and the PNP and JLP on the other.

Deadlock:

The Government wishes the Opposition to support the CCJ Bills by voting in favour of the CCJ Bills, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
The Opposition wishes the issue of whether the Caribbean Court of Justice should replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Jamaica's final Court of Appeal to be put to the Jamaican electorate by way of a vote.

Proposed solution:

  1.  More than 50% of Opposition Members in the House of Representatives and more than 50% of the Opposition Senators in the Senate will vote in support of the CCJ Bills in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, respectively.
  2. The question to be put to the electorate: "Are you in favour of the Caribbean Court of Justice replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Jamaica's final Court of Appeal"
  3. The electorate may vote Yes or No to that question.
  4. All parties to the Agreement would  agree "not  to say or do anything, or allow any of its officers or appointed candidates to say or do anything, whether in media advertising, media interviews, public debates, media talk shows, published articles, platform speeches or other public activities..... that might reasonably be perceived to be inconsistent  with a support of a Yes vote.
  5. The Government would " not bring the CCJ Bills into operation by way of publication in the Gazette of a notice in accordance with clause 1 of each of the CCJ Bills unless and until-- (i) the question referred to in paragraph  1(a) has been put to a vote by the electorate in Jamaica, and (ii) votes Yes are cast in that vote by more than 50% of the voters who vote thereon."
  6. In the event of any material breach occurring after the CCJ Bills have been passed by Parliament with the support of at least two-thirds of members of each House, the Government shall be released from any further obligations and the Government may thereafter cause the CCJ Bills to be brought into operation.
Controversy:
The above was brought to the attention of the Senate by the Leader of Opposition Business, Senator Tavares-Finson. However, Government Senators have countered that it was a personal initiative of the Leader of Government Business in the House of Representative, Phillip Paulwell. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The CCJ: Incisive Interventions

The CCJ Debate will most likely frazzle out being overshadowed by the election campaign and the "dead babies scandal". However are some very poignant interventions; not in the actual debate but in the discussion on the motion to remove the suspension from the service of the Senate imposed on Senator Malahoo Forte.

This motion was moved and passed in the Senate on Thursday, October 29, 2015 in the absence of the Opposition Members.

Senators  Mark Golding and KD Knight gave some indication of the fundamental issues constituting the crux of the debate on the three CCJ Bills.

Senator Golding:

  • "We want them to listen and to hear what we have to say on this important issue. We want to hear what they have to say on this important issue. The people of Jamaica want to hear what all Senators have to say on this important issue..... (Applause)....because it is one of the ironies, perhaps, of history, that an unelected Senate, ultimately will determine whether or not the people of Jamaica who elect their Government will be able to have access to a final court, through legislation , that has been passed by the House of Representative with the required majority of two-thirds."

  • "It is a fundamental Debate as to whether or not we want our final Court to continue, 53 years after Independence and onwards, as the country thinks about such issues of reparations for past horrors of our history, and so on, if we are still holding on to a Court that sits in London, which was set up in 1833 in the era of slavery. (Applause)"

Senator KD Knight:

  • "Now why do I intend to support this Motion? I came to support it because President, this debate is bigger than Senator Malahoo Forte, it's bigger than me, it's bigger than the 21 of us assembled here and extended to all who are in this Chamber now, it's bigger than all of us. This debate is bigger than the PNP, this debate is bigger than the JLP, this debate is bigger than the PNP and the JLP combined because the PNP and the JLP combined formed only a percentage of the society, This debate is about the entire society, anyone in being and those not even en ventre sa mere.
            Mr Nicolson: Explain it, sir.
           Mr Knifght: Those yet unborn, it's about them.
  • "This CCJ could remain for another 182 years too. it may be for a shorter period because we may move to our own local final Court in due course, but it is ---we're looking at years down the line, years down the line. So it's a big debate, which will have a big impact of one of the most important pillars of a society, the justice system, and one of the arms of government, one of the three arms of government, the Judicial Arm"