Constitutional Reform Committee to be Named After Next Round of Vale Royal Talks

The Government is to delay the formal naming of the Constitutional Reform Committee until the next round of the Vale Royal talks is held.

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, made the disclosure during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 7).

The Committee will play a key role in ensuring Jamaica’s smooth transition to a Republic.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte said the reform work will be done in phases, beginning with provisions that ultimately require the votes of the electorate to change, through the process of a referendum.

These provisions are set out in the Constitution of Jamaica at Section 49.

“They are the hardest provisions to change, as they are given the highest level of protection by virtue of the process and procedure required to change them. They are described as the deeply entrenched provisions of the Constitution,” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

She noted that collaboration and cooperation are needed between the Government and the Opposition and between the Parliament and the electorate to make the change to abolish the Constitutional monarchy and establish the republic of Jamaica.

The Minister informed that Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding, is still declining the Government’s invitation to participate in and name members of the Parliamentary Opposition to the Constitutional Reform Committee “unless his conditions… about the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and request for details of all proposed changes to the Constitution are met”.

“I really do not know how else to say that there is now no consensus to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.

Furthermore, changing Jamaica’s final court is not a matter which requires a referendum to do,” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

She added that the Opposition is “demanding details about proposed changes to other provisions of the Constitution, which I had indicated are not available at this stage”.

“We are not yet at the stage where we can provide the details sought by the Opposition Leader, but we will get there, and when we do, we will make full disclosure and we will invite input. Until then, I have indicated broadly what the proposals will include,” she said.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte said when the next round of the Vale Royal talks is concluded, the Constitutional Reform Committee will be formally constituted.

“It is hoped that would be within this month of February,” the Minister added.

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