Presentation by the Hon. Minister of Justice in support of the three Bills entitled
The Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015,
The Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction)(Amendment) Act, 2015 and
The Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015
Mr. President, I rise to open the debate on the three monumental Bills that are before us, which are respectively shortly entitled The Constitution (Amendment) (Caribbean Court of Justice) Act 2015, The Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction)(Amendment) Act, 2015 and The Caribbean Court of Justice Act, 2015.
Access to Justice
As I open the debate on the three Bills that are before us, I wish to stress that this is all about the rights of the Jamaican people. The rights of our people are protected by access to justice, which means access to our courts. For centuries, the vast majority of our people have been denied the right to appeal their cases to Jamaica’s final court, because our final court is a colonial institution which sits in London.
That institution, known as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, for the most part only hears appeals from two categories of Jamaicans – firstly, there are convicted murderers who are facing the death penalty. The death penalty having been abolished in the UK 50 years ago, but remains on our law books. There are lawyers in London who are willing to argue Jamaican death penalty appeals for free. The other category is the wealthy individual or corporation in Jamaica, that can afford the enormous costs, amounting to many tens of millions of dollars, that are required to take an appeal to the Privy Council.
But for the vast majority of Jamaicans, if they lose their appeal in the Jamaican Court of Appeal, that is the end of their recourse to the law for protection of their rights, even though there may be may be a right to a further appeal to the final court in London. It is this denial of access to justice for the Jamaican people that is the most pressing imperative that compels the passing of these three Bills…Read More