Cabinet Gives Instructions for Tabling of Green Paper on Constitutional Reform


Cabinet has directed the Leader of Government Business in the House of Representative, Dr. Peter Philips, to table in the House of Representatives, a Green Paper outlining a programme of constitutional reform in Jamaica.
Minister of Information and Development, Donald Buchanan, who made the announcement at (June 4) post Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House, said that the aim is to table the Green Paper in Parliament well in advance of the general election. “This will enable the people of Jamaica to feel assured that the incoming government, whatever its composition might be, will move to implement them (the changes) without any unnecessary delay,” Mr. Buchanan said.
The Green Paper will address a number of issues dating back to 1991, when a Constitutional Commission, comprised of members of both Houses of Parliament and a wide cross section of the general public, began the process of re-examining all aspects of the Jamaican Constitution. That Commission presented its final report to Parliament in February 1994.
“The consideration of the matters dealt with in that report, both within and outside of Parliament, has resulted in a substantial body of agreed changes to our Constitution among parliamentarians on both sides of the House and the Senate, and among the Jamaican people,” Mr. Buchanan informed.
The proposed changes involve fundamental matters such as replacing the Queen as head of state, with a president; changes to the composition of the Senate; and the re-writing of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
Also proposed is the replacement of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice, as the country’s final court of appeal, as well as procedures with appropriate sanctions for parliamentary oversight of the executive.
“In large measure, these changes that have been agreed in principle cannot take place unless enacted into law by a process that requires bi-partisan support in Parliament and the formal approval of a majority of the Jamaican people,” Mr. Buchanan noted.
He added that “it would be most unfortunate if these agreements, so painstakingly fashioned over the past 15 years, were to be either abandoned in the course of the forthcoming election campaign or ignored thereafter.”

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