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  • Government Senator Sophia Fraser-Binns Liburd, has rejected calls for a referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a “double standard,” noting that there were no similar cries regarding the passage of the Charter of Rights.
  • Senator Fraser-Binns Liburd was contributing to debate in the Senate on October 22, on the three Bills, which seek to make the CCJ Jamaica’s finale appellate court.
  • Senator Fraser-Binns Liburd said that the Charter of Rights represent the most revolutionary piece of legislation in independent Jamaica.

Government Senator Sophia Fraser-Binns Liburd, has rejected calls for a referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a “double standard,” noting that there were no similar cries regarding the passage of the Charter of Rights.

“I fail to see the wisdom in having a referendum to determine the CCJ. It cannot be that we are seeking a referendum on an issue that is the CCJ, when conveniently, we did not ask for one for the Charter of Rights,” she said.

Senator Fraser-Binns Liburd was contributing to debate in the Senate on October 22, on the three Bills, which seek to make the CCJ Jamaica’s finale appellate court.

The Charter of Rights legislation, passed in 2011, protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of Jamaican citizens. Members on both sides of the House united to pass the Bill, which replaces chapter three of the Jamaican Constitution.

The Charter of Rights provides protection for life, liberty and security of person; freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observance of religious and political doctrines; freedom of expression; the right to seek, distribute or disseminate information, opinions and ideas through any media; freedom of peaceful assembly and association; freedom of movement; due process of law; equality before the law; freedom from discrimination; and property rights.

Senator Fraser-Binns Liburd said that the Charter of Rights represent the most revolutionary piece of legislation in independent Jamaica.

“It affects the fundamental rights and freedom of every single Jamaican (yet) such a fundamental piece of legislation did not go to referendum,” she pointed out.

She said the Opposition’s call for a referendum is “displaying nothing but an obvious double standard.”

“The people elect the legislature to represent their interest. Let us do right by them by exercising this awesome responsibility. We are called to put country above self, above party and support the CCJ,” she said.

For her part, Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte reiterated the Opposition’s call for a referendum.

“On this fundamental constitutional reform matter, the people of Jamaica should have a say,” she stated.

The three Bills being debated are the Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015; the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 2015, and the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015.

They are seeking to delink Jamaica from the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom (UK) Privy Council, and to become part of the CCJ in its Appellate Jurisdiction.

The CCJ Bills were debated and passed on May 12 in the House of Representatives, where the Government enjoys the two-thirds majority needed to have them passed.  The Opposition voted against all three Bills.

The CCJ was established on February 12, 2001 through an agreement signed by the Heads of Government of CARICOM at their 22nd meeting in Nassau. It has two jurisdictions: an appellate and original.