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Jamaica begins parliamentary debate on joining Caribbean Court

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson

The Jamaica Parliament has begun debate to cut ties with the British Privy Council and make the Caribbean Court of Justice the final court of appeal.

Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller on Tuesday described resort to the Privy Council as a fundamental missing link in independence.

Against the background of the expected insistence by the opposition Jamaica Labour Party that the issue be put to a referendum, she urged bipartisan support to ensure two-thirds passage of the amendments.

She stresses that scrapping the Privy Council as Jamaica’s final court of appeal will preserve its identity, sovereignty and protection of legal rights of citizens.

The Prime Minister also highlighted that using the Privy Council is too expensive for lawyers and litigants and also there is no guarantee that they will get United Kingdom visas.

Jamaica ratified the CCJ agreement in 2004, signaling its intention to become an active member at the appellate and Caribbean Community trade court levels.

Of the 14 independent Caricom member-states, only Guyana, Barbados, Belize and Dominica are members of the CCJ at both levels.