Patterson: Talks needed among parties over Carib court

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).

He made the call while speaking at a recent forum for Jamaica Observer journalists.

Patterson, Jamaica’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 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 in which we achieve that. I always assume our leaders are reasonable people, and I hope that reason will prevail,” he said.

In July the Portia Simpson-Miller administration tabled two bills in support of making the CJJ, established in 2001, as the island’s final court of appeal replacing the London-based Privy Council.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas 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 its reach.

But while the opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) has signaled its intention to join the CCJ, it nonetheless wants a referendum held on the issue.

Patterson said, “we don’t believe that Jamaica should continue to drag out its full acceptance of the court”.

“Those who have doubted that it would have been efficient and provide quality judgments now have evidence to dissuade them from that view,” the former prime minister added.

“Joining the court in all its jurisdiction 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,” Patterson said.