PRIME MINISTER P.J. Patterson has written Opposition Leader Edward Seaga formally inviting the support of the Opposition in a bi-partisan approach to amending the Constitution to allow for the implementation of the death penalty.
Mr. Patterson, in a letter to Mr. Seaga yesterday, proposed that teams of Government and Opposition attorneys meet to discuss issues concerning the legislation to be enacted.
Mr. Patterson said that he was considering a proposal for the enactment in Jamaica of legislation similar to the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2002 of Barbados. This would be necessary in order to ensure the constitutionality of the death penalty and the resumption of its execution.
"The passage of such legislation in Jamaica, as legislation to amend entrenched provisions of the Constitution, would of course require the support, in both Houses of Parliament, of members of the Opposition. I am, therefore, inviting your support in this matter and propose that teams of Government and Opposition attorneys meet to discuss issues concerning the legislation to be enacted, so that it may go forward as a joint effort of members on both sides of the Houses of Parliament," Mr. Patterson wrote.
He said that Attorney-General A.J. Nicholson has been instructed to assemble the Government's team and is ready to meet with the Opposition's representatives.
He added that the process must be part of the general effort to reduce crime and violence and to ensure the maintenance of confidence in the system of law enforcement and the administration of justice in Jamaica.
Mr. Patterson said that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in a series of recent cases, had departed from its own decisions and declared to be unconstitutional, certain aspects of the law enforcement process in various Caribbean countries relating to the death penalty and its implementation.