Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Constitutional Reform Committee members yet to be named

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2023 | 1:41 AM
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte.
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte.

The naming of the proposed Constitutional Reform Committee that will, among other things, lead the process for Jamaica to abolish the constitutional monarchy and establish a republic, appears to remain in limbo as a request by the parliamentary Opposition for the Government to provide critical information on far-reaching changes is yet to be delivered.

Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding indicated on Monday that his request for Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte to disclose the specific changes to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms has not yet been addressed.

Golding told The Gleaner that he had not yet nominated two members of the parliamentary Opposition to sit on the committee.

The opposition leader had signalled in January that he would not name members to the committee until he received the information requested from the minister of legal and constitutional affairs.

Malahoo Forte, in a statement to Parliament in January, had indicated that the Government intends to hold a referendum on the monarchy. However, Golding said the administration had also said that referenda would be held “on other matters”.

He insisted that the Government should also disclose “the other matters” that are being contemplated for referenda.

In her statement to Parliament in January, Malahoo Forte said she was disappointed in the Opposition for failing to nominate two of its members to sit on the Constitutional Reform Committee.

The committee is to advise on a process of overhaul 60 years after Independence, including the transition to republicanism.

In the discussion last month, the Opposition said it wanted the executive and judicial branches of Government to be decolonised together.

“We consider it unfortunate that the parliamentary Opposition is twinning accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) to the move to abolish the constitutional monarchy and establish the republic of Jamaica. I thought that when they said that we should complete the move, they meant it, but clearly, it was plain talk. Plain talk,” Malahoo Forte lamented during the debate last month.

At the January 10 sitting of the Lower House, Prime Minister Andrew Holness was expected to name the members of the committee.

The committee should comprise representatives of the bicameral legislature from the Government and Opposition, the attorney general, the solicitor general, and constitutional law experts, among others.

Attempts to reach Malahoo Forte Monday evening were unsuccessful, as her phone rang without answer. The minister is scheduled to make a statement in Parliament today.