KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Jamaica's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator A.J. Nicholson says that the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the Shanique Myrie case is of “huge significance”, not only to Jamaica but to all other CARICOM member states.
The CCJ, on Friday, ruled in favour of Shanique Myrie, declaring that the Barbados government breached her right to enter the country under article 5 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, awarding her damages totalling $3.6 million.
Senator A.J. Nicholson
Addressing members of the media after the sitting of the Senate on Monday, Nicholson pointed out that the findings of the CCJ have implications for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) regime.
“It appears that the findings have far reaching implications for the CSME... the free movement of persons, goods and services through the region particularly,” Nicholson said.
He added that the findings of the court also address issues such as the burden of proof in relation to the right to free movement.
“In other words, who should prove that there is this right, and who should prove or disprove that the right was infringed. The court found that an essential element of the right of free movement is entry into a country and the stay of a community national in another member state hassle free, that is to say, without harassment or imposition of impediments,” Nicholson said.
He added that the court also found that member states, who refuse entry to other CARICOM nationals, must give promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to the community national. “So it is a far reaching judgement,” he noted.
The foreign affairs minister commented further that the ruling may impress upon Jamaicans the need to have the CCJ as the country’s final appellate court.
“It is a question that has been on the minds of persons throughout the society because, let us be frank, if the judgement had gone in another direction, persons might very well have had a jaundiced approach or feeling towards the court itself,’ he argued.
“It might very well mean that persons might be willing to say that yes, ‘this is the kind of court that we need within our Caribbean states’ and be more willing to cotton on to it. Of course, this judgement really doesn’t even push the government any further for wanting the court. We have always thought it was highly necessary that we become a part of this court,” he stated.
He disclosed that there are discussions within “government circles” that the CCJ Bills should be debated in the House of Representatives “anytime now”.
The Bills are: An Act to Amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, which seeks to amend the Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, to repeal provisions for appeals to the Privy Council, and exclude any appeals to the Privy Council instituted prior to implementation of the CCJ; An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica, which seeks to amend section 110 of the Constitution to repeal provisions relating to appeals to the Privy Council and replace them with provisions establishing the CCJ as Jamaica’s final court; and An Act to make provisions for the implementation of the agreement establishing the CCJ as both a court of original jurisdiction, to determine cases involving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and International treaties, as well as a superior court of record with appellate jurisdiction.
Nicholson explained that after the Bills have been debated in the Lower House, there is a time period of three months before a vote can be taken.
“The government has two thirds majority in the Lower House but not in the Senate. It means that we have to attempt to and hope to succeed in convincing some of the Opposition Senators that this is the way to go. It would be very good if all Senators and all members of the Lower House vote in favour,” he stated.
The opposition has been calling for a referendum to determine Jamaica’s full accession to the CCJ.