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Phillips said he cautioned PM about temporary appointment of chief justice

Published:Friday | February 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Opposition leader Dr Peter Phillips.

Retarding the process of the judiciary and compromising the fundamental principle of Jamaica's Constitution are implications that Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Philips said are possible in light of Prime Minister Andrew Holness's decision to appoint Chief Justice Bryan Sykes in an acting position.

Speaking at a press conference that was held at the leader of the opposition's offices in St Andrew, Phillips said it was wholly unacceptable that the fundamental principle of the Constitution would be impaired by Sykes' lack of settled authority.

"She (Justice Zaila McCalla) was required to demit office at the end of January when she attained the age prescribed by law as the limit for her appointment. It is curious, at best, that given all this notice, the prime minister and the Government could not settle the matter before. That in and of itself raises questions," he said

"Let me place on record that I was consulted by the prime minister on the appointment of the chief justice and concurred with the appointment of Justice Sykes. However, when I learnt of the temporary nature of the appointment for the chief justice, I objected and cautioned the prime minister." Phillips continued.

Opposition Spokesperson on Justice Donna Scott-Motley said that the circumstances surrounding the appointment were undesirable.

"Let me remind you that he (Holness) spoke to the rule of law. He spoke to the separation of powers, which is so important because it is a commitment not to interfere politically with the judiciary. It signals respect for the different arms. He spoke about the characteristics of Justice Sykes. He lauded him and then he was placed on probation? Anyone would get disturbed by that," she said.

"In a democracy, these things are undesirable, and it is deeply regretted. In fact, it is untenable that any chief justice will have to be submitted to this level of humiliation. That is why we are calling on the prime minister to address this error," she continued.