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Jamaican judges critical of statements made by PM about Justice Bryan…

first_imgNinety-seven judges in Jamaica have called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to retract statements he made recently regarding the appointment of a Chief Justice and to publicly acknowledge that the head of the judiciary is not answerable to him.Register grace concernThe judges from the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and Parish Courts said it was “necessary to publicly register our grave concern regarding some statements made by the Honorable Prime Minister, following the appointment of the Honorable Mr. Justice Bryan Sykes to act as Chief Justice of Jamaica as of February 1, 2018.”Holness is quoted as saying that “actions that brings results will determine the assumption of the role of chief justice,”But the judges said “by his unfortunate comments the Honorable Prime Minister, the head of the Executive branch of Government and a member of the Legislature, has sought to place the head of the judiciary, a separate and equal arm of Government, under his supervision, direction and control, and subject to a process of evaluation by him.Breach of separation of powers“This is clearly inappropriate and in breach of the fundamental doctrine of the separation of powers. We ask the Prime Minister to retract his statements and to publicly acknowledge that the Chief Justice is not answerable to him,” the judges said in their lengthy statement. Our concern is heightened as this is against a background of previous statements made by other members of the executive that have crossed the line of the separation of powers and have had the effect of undermining the independence of the judiciary.”The judges said they wanted to make it clear “we do not speak on behalf of the acting Chief Justice, and are acting independently of him and without his concurrence in indicating our disquiet.” They also said it should be clearly recognized that the safeguards of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary are not intended for the benefit of the judges who are the office holders.“Rather they are intended for the benefit and protection of Jamaican citizens and all others who come within our jurisdiction. For that reason, judges must be free to enforce the laws of the land, “without fear or favor, affection or ill-will”, which they are sworn to do.“For the judiciary to adequately and appropriately perform its constitutional functions and maintain its authority and legitimacy, judicial independence must be zealously safeguarded and preserved.”last_img read more