KINGSTON: Leader of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Andrew Holness, has reiterated his party’s stance on the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), as Jamaica’s final court of appeal.
Holness told supporters at the party’s annual conference last Sunday that the JLP has no interest in abandoning the UK-based Privy Council, at least for now.
“This is an example of how not to use foreign policy,” he said. “One of our greatest assets is that our final court is an internationally recognized court of arbitration and appeal and we want to take ourselves from it. We are not serious about investment, things (are) not going so well in CARICOM, our citizens are being treated with disrespect and yet we want to go and further intensify our ties with CARICOM. I say no to that!”
The parliamentary debate on whether Jamaica should move away from the Privy Council and adopt the CCJ as its final appellate court began in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The House will debate on three bills which, if passed, should pave the way for Jamaica’s accession to the CCJ in its criminal and civil jurisdiction.
Holness pledged that the JLP would use its foreign policy to influence economic growth and development in Jamaica.
“Mek we sort out CARICOM first, mek we build our economy first before we start to pretend that we (are) big, bad and politically independent,” he said. “We must now seek to secure our economic independence because it is in our economic independence that we will truly be able to secure our political independence.”
The statement from the JLP leader follows a call from Foreign Affairs Minister, A.J. Nicholson, supporting a move to abandon the Privy Council.
Last weekend, Nicholson said that the administration of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller would not support the idea of a referendum on the issue.
Nicholson said there are several reasons why the nation benefits from moving away from the Privy Council, including affordability.
“In Jamaica, and I rather suspect for the rest of the CARICOM, no more than perhaps one per cent of our population can afford going to London to have their case heard at the final level and yet in Jamaica it appears as if our opposition doesn’t seem to understand that,” he said.