Jamaica's Cabinet Approves Constitutional Reform Committee to Help Transition to Republic

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Cabinet has approved the setting up of a Constitutional Reform Committee, which will play a key role in ensuring Jamaica’s smooth transition to a republic, Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte has disclosed.

CAmarlenMinister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte (Courtesy of JIS)She said the body “will be a consultative committee, a collaborative committee where we exchange perspectives”.

It will comprise representatives from the Government and Opposition, the Attorney General, constitutional law experts, including persons from academia, and the private sector.

Minister Malahoo Forte told the House of Representatives on Tuesday that much of the groundwork required to move away from the monarchy has been done through previous constitutional reviews, and the Committee “will provide some advice on the remaining work to be done and how the steps should be sequenced to implement those recommendations”.

“The starting point will see focus on matters on which there is consensus, starting with those that are deeply entrenched,” she noted.

The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister said the background documents have been prepared, which will inform the work of the Committee.

“So, those recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform, as well as the recommendations of the Constitutional Commission, will be placed before the Committee for them to note and for perspectives to be engaged on them,” she told the House.

The body will be supported by a Secretariat through the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs. It will include the Permanent Secretary, the Director of Legal Reform and a technical team, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and a technical team, Senior Director of Constitutional Reform, and a recording secretary.

Minister Malahoo Forte said the Committee will review the Constitution of Jamaica against the backdrop of the work done and advise of the steps required to be taken to implement the recommendations that were approved and on which consensus remains.

The Committee is also expected to examine the provisions of the Order in Council, the Constitution of Jamaica and the Jamaica Independence Act, identify provisions that will require amendment, if any, and give effect to the reform recommendations.

It will also advise and make recommendations on the shift from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, including the type of republic, and the necessary powers to address Jamaica’s governance challenges.

“A review of Chapter three [of the constitution] will have to be done. This has some urgency around it, but we will put in that work in the Committee,” Malahoo Forte said.

The Minister said it is expected that the Committee will be announced next month.