JIS News

On Tuesday last, I made a statement in Parliament on the ruling by the Privy Council concerning the creation of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Because the CCJ is of such importance to every single Jamaican in severing the links of dependency and fostering our economic development, I want this evening to take a little time to explain to you once again what is at stake here and how we can go forward.
In early February, 2001, the Heads of Government of a number of CARICOM countries, including Jamaica, signed an Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice. In due course, the Agreement was ratified by Jamaica and a sufficient number of countries to bring the Court formally into existence, although it has not yet been inaugurated.
The CCJ as our final Court of Appeal was conceived by Jamaica and other CARICOM nations who share a history of slavery and colonialism, and whose legal systems are defined by the common law.
Those who framed our Constitution contemplated that after a few years of independence we would proceed to establish our own final court of appeal for cases tried in our Courts. This is why the Privy Council was never entrenched in our Constitution.
The second critical issue which makes the existence of the CCJ so vital is our establishment of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy- the CSME.
In order to build a strong and sustainable economy that creates investment and more jobs to improve the quality of life of all Jamaicans we have to cope with the demands of today’s globalized world. In the Caribbean Single Market and Economy we will remove barriers to trade not only in goods but also in trade in services.
In the single economic space which the CSME creates, our group of small nations can pool together to negotiate with other regional groupings in the world in order to gain access to markets for our goods and services. The CSME will facilitate the free movement of capital and the movement of management and skills.
We have already increased our trade in services – such as entertainment, construction, financial, professional and business services, in which we have an advantage. Many Jamaican firms have already begun to take advantage of the opportunities the CSME offers. Many have begun to form strategic alliances and partnerships with other firms in the CSME.
The CCJ would become the court responsible for cases of involving the operations and functioning of the CSME.
To bring the CCJ into being, therefore, the States who signed the Agreement for its creation undertook to pass the necessary legislation in their countries to vest the Court.
An Appellate Jurisdiction which would make decisions of the Court and
An original jurisdiction which would enable the Court to hear cases related to disputes between member territories of the CSME or other legal issues. The Government therefore enacted three Bills in Parliament in order to fulfill our obligations under the Agreement.
A lawsuit by Claimants challenging the process used to pass these Bills through Parliament was the subject of an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Privy Council has ruled that the procedure adopted by the Government when we passed the three Acts in Parliament, was not “in accordance with the procedure required by the Constitution”.
It is important to note that the Privy Council judgment confirms that the Jamaican Parliament is competent to abolish appeals to the Privy Council by the affirmative vote of a simple majority of a two-thirds of the members of the House and the Senate.
In examining the available options for the way forward, a careful analysis of the judgment of the Privy Council will disclose the following findings as to the provision of the Treaty which have been agreed in order to establish the CCJ.
In drafting Treaty provisions for the CCJ, great care was taken to ensure the independence of the Court.
The Privy Council had “no difficulty in accepting, and did not doubt, “that the CCJ Agreement represents a serious or conscientious endeavour to create a new regional Court of high quality and complete independence”
As we all become more engaged in the national debate, I would remind the critics of the CCJ that once it is entrenched, the Privy Council has been satisfied that the Judges appointed would in fact be immune from all Executive and Parliamentary pressure.
Once the support of 2/3 is forthcoming in both Houses, it would receive the full Constitutional protections which our Supreme Court and Court of Appeal now enjoy.
The Opposition has declared that they are prepared to enter into dialogue on the matter and we certainly welcome that declaration.
In light of this, I have now written to the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Ken Baugh, to engage in constructive discussions between the Government and the Opposition on a number of areas which we must consider by way of Constitutional Reform.
I expect the two teams to be appointed in the course of the coming week and to make a genuine effort to resolve whatever differences now exist in order to advance the interest of the Jamaican people and enable us to fulfill our Treaty obligations.We intend to involve the wider society in the dialogue. I urge every Jamaican at home and abroad to inform yourselves fully on these critical issues. Please participate in the public education programmes and discussions. Your views are a critical part of our decision-making process.
Crime and violence continue to be a most troubling aspect of national life. The most recent gruesome killings, of children especially, and attacks against older citizens, have been of a singularly merciless and callous nature. These acts underscore the still urgent need for national mobilization in our constant fight against crime.
As a government, we will not relent.
We have taken cooperation with our international partners to another level with the imminent arrival in Jamaica of personnel from Britain’s Scotland Yard in operational roles within the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
In March, a senior officer from Scotland Yard will be seconded as a member of the commissioning ranks of the JCF. He will be joined by others over the next few months. They will assist the Force in, among other things, improving investigative skills and case preparation for more effective prosecutions.
We are also proceeding with legislative action as well as the acquisition of new technology to facilitate greater reliance on forensic science in solving crime.
Mobility of the security forces is another area being urgently addressed. One hundred (100) new motorcycles are set to be on the streets in another week, in addition to one hundred and fifty (150) new all-terrain vehicles which will arrive next month.A new Coast Guard base to be established in Black River, St. Elizabeth, later this month is expected to improve surveillance and interdictions of illegal drugs, guns and ammunition along the south coast.
We have already repaired and refurbished a number of police stations. We have recently opened five new stations and a new station will open in May Pen next month. We recognise the need for new stations.
The new Commissioner has outlined steps to be taken in the four police divisions responsible for the most murders being committed. Divisional commanders have been charged with increasing their operations and patrols.
Operation Kingfish continues to consolidate major gains in the effort to dismantle criminal gangs. Kingfish has received considerable public support including the receipt of information leading to the arrest of some ninety (90) persons, the recovery of substantial quantities of drugs, guns and ammunition as well as the detention of over forty vessels suspected to be involved in organised crime.
Indeed, the stepped up collaboration with our overseas partners has demonstrated only a fraction of what can be achieved where there is a will and commitment to fight crime.
We know that the criminal gangs are hurting. We know that Kingfish and the other initiatives have disrupted their operations and drawn the wrath of organised crime and all those who benefit from the ill-gotten gains. We intend to re-double our efforts. We refuse to bow to fear and so sacrifice Jamaica’s future. This we will not do.
As I have stated many times, there is no quick fix to solving crime. This Administration has given the people of Jamaica the assurance that we are prepared to do whatever it takes within the ambit of the law, to reduce crime and violence because Jamaica’s future is at stake.
We recently hosted a top-level delegation from the People’s Republic of China led by its Vice President. Over the past ten years, China’s economy has emerged as perhaps the most dynamic and fast growing in the global economic system. As a result, it is now exerting a powerful influence on world markets for a wide range of primary commodities, as well as services such as shipping. During this time, Jamaica’s economic and trade ties with China have also expanded significantly, involving strong growth in both imports and exports between our two countries.
The development of our trade has been on a balanced basis, with Jamaica showing a small surplus, with our exports of alumina being the predominant item. The value of these exports has gone from just over US$12 million in 2000 to about US$200 million in 2004, as the volume of alumina exports have moved from just over 63,000 tonnes in 2000 to over 830,000 tonnes in 2004.
Among the agreements signed last week during the visit of the Vice President of China was a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at expanding and intensifying the cooperation of our two countries in the bauxite and alumina industry.
Specifically, the relevant governmental agencies of China and Jamaica will conduct feasibility and other technical studies towards the development of a new alumina plant in Jamaica to supply the requirements of the Chinese market. Consultations will take place shortly to finalise the work plan for conducting the necessary studies.
The proposed alumina plant would be in the order of 1 million tonnes capacity per annum and this would involve a significant new investment for our industry and by far the largest by China in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
In spite of our many challenges, we can all give thanks that our democratic society continues to function well. It has been said that if there is no struggle, there is no progress. So even as each day seems to bring new and often contentious issues to the fore, we are free to articulate our concerns openly. This Administration at the national and community levels remains open to points of view from different sides on any issue. We remain committed to effecting positive change through a decision-making process that involves courteous discussion and dialogue and respect for each other.
It is our firm belief that even if we may not always agree as to what route to take, every Jamaican is a legitimate participant in this exciting journey on which we are all embarked as together we build a united people, a strong and caring nation.
May God continue to bless us all and bless Jamaica, land we love.

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