JIS News

Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has given full support to the Charter of Rights Bill, which is being debated in the Lower House.
“The Opposition is most heartened that the Government has given a firm signal that they are seriously considering having the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final Court of Appeal,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said in her contribution to the debate on the Bill, in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 20).
“We are pleased for several reasons, including the fact that we were more than reluctant to give our approval for the provisions of the new Charter to be interpreted by the Privy Council (in London),” the Opposition Leader stated.
“We wish to announce loud and clear that this Government now has our co-operation,” Mrs. Simpson Miller added, signaling that the Opposition was ready to ensure that the Charter Bill gets the required two-thirds majority votes in Parliament. This followed revelation of the Government’s willingness to review its position against the regional court becoming Jamaica’s final appellate court until its concerns about the system of appointment of the judges and the court’s financing were addressed.
She welcomed the move to put the legislative foundation in place for the Charter of Rights and the discussions on joining the Caribbean Court of Justice to be undertaken at the same time. The United Kingdom-based Privy Council is presently Jamaica’s final Court of Appeal.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, said that recently his party’s reservations about the CCJ have been reduced by recent developments, including the appointment of a regional judicial services commission to appoint the judges, instead of appointments sanctioned by politicians, and the establishment of a trust fund to finance the court.
These positions were discussed by Mr. Golding and a Bipartisan Parliamentary Committee at Jamaica House on Thursday (October 15).
Simpson-Miller also expressed support for the Government’s position on same-sex marriages. She said that the Opposition was “completely satisfied” with the Joint Select Committee’s recommendation of a provision to restrict marriage, and similar unions, to one man and one woman within Jamaica.
She suggested that the provision should be specifically spelt out, so that there could be no ambiguity.
The Charter of Rights Bill will replace section three of the Jamaica Constitution, which deals with the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. Debate on the Bill is scheduled to continue at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.