Attack-on-Justice-in-Jamaica.pdf - ATTACKS ON JUSTICE JAMAICA Highlights Although an independent judiciary largely functions in practice it operates

Attack-on-Justice-in-Jamaica.pdf - ATTACKS ON JUSTICE...

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1 ATTACKS ON JUSTICE- JAMAICA Highlights Although an independent judiciary largely functions in practice, it operates within an overburdened system with inadequate resources. The government has launched a three-year reform plan to modernize and improve the court system and the effectiveness of the judiciary. Legislation was enacted in 2004 to abolish appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and make the Caribbean Court of Justice Jamaica’s highest appellate authority. The Privy Council declared this legislation unconstitutional in February 2005 on procedural grounds. New legislation was under discussion as of April 2005. In March 2004, the Social Conflict and Legal Reform, a five-year-long initiative to foster mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods at both the institutional and community levels, came to an end. It succeeded in establishing mediation centres in several deprived areas. Budgetary and political constraints have severely undermined the effectiveness and impartiality of the Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA) in investigating alleged abuses by state security forces. BACKGROUND Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy that achieved full independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. During the 1970s, this Caribbean island state suffered depressed economic conditions, which contributed to recurrent societal and politically motivated violence. The 1962 Jamaican Constitution 1 proclaims itself the supreme law of the land and declares any law that is inconsistent with it to be, to the extent of the inconsistency, void. It is worth noting, however, that section 26(8) of the Constitution precludes any law that was in force before 1962 from being subsequently declared unconstitutional. This provision, known as a “savings-clause”, is to be found in several Commonwealth Caribbean constitutions and may sometimes influence judicial constitutional interpretation. The Constitution is rooted on the separation of powers between the three branches of government, namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Executive authority is vested in the Prime Minister and, subject to constitutional restrictions, may be exercised either directly or through subordinate officers. The legislative power resides in a bicameral Parliament, which comprises the Prime Minister, an upper house called the Senate and a lower house called the House of Representatives. Politically, the Jamaican electorate has shifted allegiances between two legislative parties, the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The PNP has been in power since in 1989. The current Prime Minister and PNP leader, 1 Constitution of Jamaica of 1962, updated through Amendment Act 18/1999:
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2 P.J. Patterson, has held power since 1992. At the 2002 national elections, the party gained 34 of the 60 available parliamentary seats. The PNP also secured 13 of the 21 available seats in the Senate.
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