D-Day for CCJ

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The three bills seeking to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica’s final appellate court will today begin their agonizing march into oblivion. This, unless, an Opposition Senator decides to do what is now near universally accepted as the right thing, and vote in favor of the Court’s entrenchment in our Constitution.

We here at Talk Jamaica have long made known our support for the regional court. Both as a matter of mature regional governance and as an important symbolic, if not substantive, act to remove one of the last vestiges of the colonial power. We believe the latter is bolstered significantly by the damage recently inflicted to our national consciousness by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who in an act of unrivaled contempt stood in our country’s highest decision making body, and demanded we get over his country’s blight on human civilization. That took balls, contempt and sure disregard.

Imagine then our surprise to find the debate to rid ourselves of a Court instituted at a time when we were mere pawns in the exploits of Britain’s Empire so complicated. One would think it an easy calculation. And yet Mr. Andrew Holness and the JLP inexplicably decided otherwise.

By now it should be clear, both in form and in substance, that Mr. Holness’ objections to the Court spring from the diseased root of partisan convenience. His calls for a referendum are a thinly veiled attempt to force history to repeat itself and bolster his party’s chances at the polls. To be sure, such a referendum would be about everything but the viability and validity of the regional Court. To be fair, we are not wholly opposed to Mr. Holness’ play for power. After all he is in the business of politics, a party exists to win. We do not, however, accept that this should be at all costs.

Mr. Holness’ position is made even more curious considering his recent push for reparations. Is it not unprincipled to on one hand demand reparations, and then on the other prostrate ourselves before the UK’s High Court judges? We imagine it is. Mr. Holness must reconcile these two positions.

Finally, we regret the way this entire debate surrounding the CCJ has unfolded. On at least one point, Mr. Holness is right. The government has taken a considerable amount for granted. It is true, for example, that there is a certain arrogance underpinning the government’s posture on the regional court. The PNP should have done far more to negotiate the merits of their position with the Opposition.

Patterson all but gave up, when he should have tried to find other solutions to the Privy Council’s ruling blocking his efforts to establish the Court. The PNP also carelessly squandered an important opportunity to partner with the then JLP administration of Bruce Golding, who at least demonstrated a willingness to discuss the Court’s entrenchment. Mrs. Simpson Miller allowed juvenile political considerations and talk of termites to eat away at the progress of those talks. That is regrettable.

We are now at a critical juncture in our judicial. We can only hope that at the end of this process in the Senate, Jamaica and the Caribbean region are the biggest winners. Anything else would be a sure and certain tragedy

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