JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has challenged lawyers in the Commonwealth, to continue to give priority to tackling the deficit and imbalances within the justice system in their respective countries.
He also urged them to consider addressing the dilemma of the defence of human rights, in relation to the new and emerging threats to human rights in their countries.
Pointing out that the causes of some of the deficits within the justice system are many and varied, the Prime Minister argued that, “as perfect as justice needs to be, its accessibility and delivery are nowhere near perfect.”
Mr. Golding was delivering the opening address at the 25th Anniversary Conference of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), today (October 17), at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay. The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Justice at Home and Abroad’.
The Prime Minister said that with terrorism no longer confined to international conflicts, the matter of justice now faces new global and national challenges.
“The 9/11 events and their bizarre implications, led many countries, including those steeped in Commonwealth traditions, to institute measures which would have been inconceivable before, and which, even today, are cause for concern that sacred thresholds have been crossed,” he said.
“There is a worrying feeling that gains won over decades and even centuries of jurisprudential development and enrichment, are in danger of being eroded,” the Prime Minister added.
He suggested that the ensuing debate is often polarised between the inviolability of fundamental rights and the inescapability of the duty of governments to protect their citizens. A polarisation, he submitted, which is not particularly helpful.
Using Jamaica as an example, the Prime Minister said that efforts to enact relevant legislation to deal with its vulnerability to both international and local acts of violence, have also ignited debate as to whether the sacred threshold of fundamental rights is a safeguard or an impediment; a matter, he said, which is the subject of ongoing discussions in Parliament.
“The question must be asked, how moveable is that threshold, how moveable should it be?” Mr. Golding said.
He urged those in attendance to spend some time during the conference to deliberate on the matter of the defence of human rights against the new, real and present danger to those very human rights.
“It is an issue that is not unconnected to another debate, and that is, to what extent should our legal and judicial practices reflect our peculiar culture and value systems. Or, to what extent should fundamental principles be so fundamental that they must be immune to cultural and value-based differences?” the Prime Minister questioned.
Several legal luminaries from throughout the Commonwealth are attending the three-day conference.