JIS News

The scheduled signing by Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, February 19 to mark the inauguration of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), has been deferred.
Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman said the signing has been postponed to allow Jamaica’s position to be regularized and make allowances for the other CARICOM member states to be able to participate.
Speaking at yesterday’s (February 14) post Cabinet press briefing, at Jamaica House, the Minister said this decision came on the heels of the Privy Council’s ruling, that the legislation passed by the Jamaican Parliament towards the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) was unconstitutional.
The central position of the Privy Council is that the CCJ, as the alternative for the Privy Council, could not be validly integrated into the legal system of Jamaica except by way of entrenchment in the Constitution of the country. The Privy Council held that the legislation establishing the CCJ did not entrench the CCJ and therefore could undermine certain provisions in the Jamaican Constitution.
Minister Whiteman said while the original decision had been that the three countries would sign with the other member states also doing so by year end, the decision has been taken to put the signing on hold to allow more countries to participate and in the process review their own legislative procedures.
The signing, he said, would take place later in the year by which time more of the countries participating in the CSME would be ready to sign. Mr. Whiteman said that Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has indicated that Attorney General and Minister of Justice, A. J. Nicholson would be meeting today (February 15) with Opposition Spokesman on Justice, Delroy Chuck, to initiate and settle the arrangements for dialogue between both sides.
The Prime Minister stressed that the matter was an urgent one, as many of the arrangements for the CSME was dependent on the procedures for creating and establishing the CCJ, even in its original jurisdiction.
Speaking in the House last week, Prime Minister Patterson said the discussions were being entered into with a view to determining what should be the final Court of Appeal for Jamaica and how to fulfill its obligations in the CSME in respect of the original jurisdiction, which is conferred on the CCJ. Meanwhile, Senator Whiteman noted that the 16th intercessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of CARICOM would take place in Suriname from February 16 to 17.
A team headed by Prime Minister Patterson will be taking part in the meeting, which is expected to address several matters which are on-going. Minister Whiteman said it was expected that during the course of the meeting, a visa waiver agreement would be signed between Suriname and Jamaica.
Other matters on the agenda include agriculture, fisheries, the European Union (EU) tariff arrangements for bananas and sugar, crime and security, the energy plan for CARICOM and a review of the programme of action for Small Island Developing States.
There will also be some consideration of the CARICOM response to natural disasters, bearing in mind that both Grenada and Guyana are still in a state of recovery, the former from the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan and the latter from flooding. There will also be a status report on the preparedness of the region for World Cup Cricket 2007.
Mr. Whiteman said the Prime Minister also announced arrangements to co-ordinate the work of the government, companies, agencies and ministries in Jamaica to ensure that they were in a state of full readiness for World Cup Cricket 2007, to ensure that the country benefited socially and economically from the event.

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