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Recent moves by Jamaica towards accepting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court, has been hailed as a welcome development and a good way to end the year by CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Edwin Carrington.
The Secretariat reviewed its accomplishments for the year with the regional media on Thursday morning (December 10), through a video conferencing session at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Dr. Carrington said that these developments in Jamaica, together with similar positive energies and indications from another three member states, were clear indicators of the integrity and strength of the regional integration process. He says this augurs well for the future of CARICOM.
Dr. Carrington also pointed to progress in other areas including: simplification of the CSME (CARICOM Single Market and Economy) certification process; finalisation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and development of mechanisms for implementation; engagement of over 7,000 youths towards finalisation of the Commission on Youth Development; and resounding commitments toward climate change mitigation.
The Secretary-General pointed to the fact that several member states abandoned the Privy Council decades ago, with sound jurisprudential success to show for the decision.
He reiterated the Secretariat’s unequivocal confidence in the qualification and integrity of the judicial bench of the CCJ, as well as the existing mechanisms that guarantee the financial sustainability of the Court and its insulation from political and other interferences.
In October, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, met with members of a bipartisan parliamentary committee to discuss re-examining the country’s position on the CCJ as a final appellate court.
Mr. Golding told the House of Representatives on October 13, that when the issue of the CCJ was first raised in Jamaica, there were significant weaknesses in the appointment of the judges, as well as in its financing.
He admitted that those issues have since been addressed with the appointment of a regional judicial services commission to appoint the judges, and the establishment of a trust fund to finance the court. But, Mr. Golding added, there were other issues that his Administration needed to examine prior to making a final decision.
However, he noted that while the British Government has, in the past, said that the Privy Council is available to Jamaica as long as it is needed, it should not be presumed that it will be permanently available.
“I am not unmindful that we must have a final court that is secure, that we know will be available to us next week and next year and ten years time,” the Prime Minister advised Parliament.
“Indeed, the Privy Council has indicated to us that, in dealing with applications from Jamaica, they would like to come to Jamaica and have those sittings here. But, we must not presume that this is a facility that will be available forever, because Governments change and Governments may even change positions that they have taken and, therefore, it is something that we are prepared to review,” he explained.
The Jamaican Government and Opposition have agreed to support a constitutional change to circumvent the five-year stricture on hanging convicts, imposed by the Privy Council in its 1993 ruling in the Pratt and Morgan case. This will predictably lead to Jamaica severing ties with the Privy Council in England possibly in 2010.
The CCJ was created in 2005 as the supreme judicial organ in the Caribbean Community. In its original jurisdiction it ensures uniform interpretation and application of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, thereby underpinning and advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
As the final court of appeal for member states of the Caribbean Community it fosters the development of an indigenous Caribbean jurisprudence but, although all 15 Member States of the Community have accepted the court in its original jurisdiction, only Barbados and Guyana have adopted it as their final court of appeal.

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