Members of Parliament in the Jamaican House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to move away from the UK based Privy council and to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final Appeal Court.
As expected, the legislators voted along party lines on the three bills and the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) called for a divide on each of them.
The vote count for two of the bills was 41 for and 21 against, but for the statute initiating a constitutional amendment, Speaker Michael Peart also voted (since a two-thirds majority is required for constitutional bills), bringing the tally to 42 for and 21 against.
The matter now moves to the Senate.
While there were sufficient votes to ensure passage in the Lower House, the Portia Simpson Miller led administration now needs the support of at least one JLP member to secure passage in the Senate.
The JLP has already said it favors a referendum on the issue and that without that referendum, it will not support the government in the move towards the CCJ, which was established in 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the region’s final court.
Jamaica is also a signatory to the original jurisdiction of the Court, but, like most other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, it is not a signatory to the Appellate Jurisdiction.
The CCJ also acts as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.
Only Barbados, Guyana, Dominica and Belize have signed on to the CCJ in its Appellate jurisdiction.