Malahoo Forte: No railroading work of CRC
Minister says republic move a critical first step for other constitutional changes
WESTERN BUREAU: Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte has suggested that there are deliberate efforts being made to blow the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) off course as it pursues its mandate. The minister also...
Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte has suggested that there are deliberate efforts being made to blow the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) off course as it pursues its mandate.
The minister also pushed back at a call for a twinning of the island’s transition to republic status with cutting ties with the Privy Council while speaking at a ceremony to commission 29 new justices of the peace in Westmoreland on Thursday evening.
Malahoo Forte said that rigorous debate is needed on whether the island should make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) its final appellate court, but noted that the move to become a republic was a key first step.
“Every other important constitutional change that features the monarchy is predicated on this important first change. If we delay making this change, meaning, dethroning King Charles, abolishing the constitutional monarchy, we may not achieve the other goals we aspire for,” Malahoo Forte said.
She noted that the CRC intends to examine the issue in phase two of its work as it examines the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and constitutional provisions that are ordinarily entrenched and for which amendments are desired and required.
Her remarks come after Opposition Leader Golding told People’s National Party supporters that his party has no intention of supporting the removal of King Charles as Jamaica’s head of state if the Privy Council will remain the country’s final court under republican status.
“Time come for full decolonisation,” Golding said at his party’s 85th annual conference on Sunday.
“Jamaicans need a final court where they don’t need a visa to go there, and where the costs are not way out of their reach. Time come for a Jamaican head of state and the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final court. We will support both moving forward together. We have no interest in one without the other,” Golding contended.
However, Malahoo Forte, who co-chairs the CRC in charge of managing Jamaica’s transition to a republic, said the issue will be dealt with at the appropriate moment.
The minister said she has taken note of the call for the government to publicly indicate its position on acceding to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ.
“Ladies and gentlemen, public opinion is divided on the matter. It will require full debate on a host of related issues, including access to and quality of justice,” Malahoo Forte said.
“Personally, I am looking forward to a full ventilation of the matter. The decisions we make must, however, be demonstrably made in the best interests of all Jamaicans,” she said.
“The journey will be taken step by step … This is a righteous call, for which failure is not an option,” Malahoo Forte added.
“In fact, getting on the road to republic got off to a rocky start, and we have since encountered many bumps along the way. Other important matters have been thrown in the path to stop us in our tracks,” she said. “Some sections of the road have been deliberately dug up to throw us off course, [but] I want you to know that as often as it takes, we will steady ourselves, regain our focus and press along.”