KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 9, CMC – Former prime minister PJ Patterson has called for “negotiations” between the two main political parties as Jamaica seeks to join the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Speaking at a forum for Jamaica Observer senior journalists, Patterson, the island’s longest serving head of government who stepped down in February 2006, said that “there has to be give and take.
“I really don’t want to say how I think the negotiations should be conducted, but I think if there is the will to have the things done, it can be done.
“I don’t hear anybody saying that there is not the need for a final court of our own. It is about the process by which we achieve that. I always assume that our leaders are reasonable people, and I hope that reason will prevail.”
Last month the Portia Simpson Miller administration tabled two Bills in support of making the CCJ, established in 2001, as the island’s highest court replacing the London-based Privy Council.
The CCJ, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Charguaramas that governs the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller has said it is the duty of Parliament to guarantee the people a right of access to a final court of appeal that is within their reach.
“After all, we have been told in no uncertain terms by the highest authority in the United Kingdom, that we are encouraged to make use of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), instead of continuing to call upon the time of their judges who could be addressing concerns of other British subjects,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
But while the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has signalled its intention to join the CCJ, it nonetheless wants a referendum held on the issue.
However, Patterson declined to say whether or not he felt that the JLP was simply engaging in politics.
“We don’t believe that Jamaica should continue to drag out its full acceptance of the court. Those who doubted that it would have been efficient and provide quality judgements now have evidence to dissuade them from that view.
“Joining the court in all its jurisdictions in this year, when we are observing our 50th year of political Independence from Britain, would make a strong statement of our confidence in the quality of Caribbean jurisprudence.
“As we have said before, we strongly believe that if we are ever to shake the debilitating psychological grip of hundreds of years of colonialism and slavery, our own systems and symbols must take pride of place,” Patterson told the Jamaica Observer Monday exchange Forum.