Current Affairs

Current Affairs



PNP putting regional court on election platform
PETRE WILLIAMS Observer staff reporter
Friday, June 28, 2002

WESTERN BUREAU -- Arguing that the UK-based Privy Council had outlived its time, Attorney-General AJ Nicholson said Wednesday that the ruling party would include the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice in their manifesto, and if elected, take that as a signal that the nation wants to move in that direction.

"The Prime Minister (P J Patterson) said that we don't think it is right at this time of our history to be placing before the people of Jamaica whether we should remain with a British institution or not," he said. "The fact is we are going to put it in our manifesto. It is going to be a part of our platform for the next election. If we form the next government, we are going to take it as a mandate to move straight ahead in the establishment of the CCJ because it is going to be part of our platform here, part of the campaign trail."

He was speaking with reporters after Wednesday's Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon.

According to the justice minister, there is no widespread opposition to the CCJ but only a few detractors who speak "against it morning noon and night".

"We do not fear what the people say or would say about that. We believe that the majority of the people in Jamaica are for the establishment of the CCJ and to de-link it from the judicial committee of the Privy Council in England, which has served us well. But I think it has outlived its time," he said.

He stressed, however, that while the PNP was determined to move towards the CCJ, they would not proceed unless the financing was firmly in place for the regional legislative body.

"(We will not proceed) before a number of mechanisms for the financing of the court is firmly in place," said Nicholson.

He added the history of the financing of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and regional institutions was not really a savoury one. "So a mechanism has to be found, other than the one that exists at present," Nicholson said.

"The present administration is firmly of the view that the appropriate mechanism for financing the court should be such that it allows for the security of the court in perpetuity for all time, in respect of both capital expenditure and recurrent expenses before the inauguration of the court itself," he added.

Meanwhile, he said the Legal Affairs Committee of Caricom has put a proposal regarding the financing of the court, before the heads of state.

"The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) would, either by itself or in conjunction with other financial institutions, provide the money which would be placed in a trust fund so that it is from that trust fund that the expenses of the court would be paid...," the justice minister said.

"What would happen is every member state would pay their contribution to the Caricom/CDB so that there is a contract between the bank and the member-state, leaving the CCJ out of these things. The funds must be managed by an institution that can manage such funds, whether it is the CDB or another bank."

He said they had also suggested to the heads of government that the private sector be given the opportunity to look at the proposal so as to achieve consensus on the proposal.

"In other words, let us not attempt to go forward unless two things happen. One: the security of the court, as far as financing, is there in perpetuity. And secondly: everybody, including the private sector, must sign off on it and agree to it or else we should, as they say, draw brakes," Nicholson said.