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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced the names of the members of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC), which will play a key role in ensuring Jamaica’s smooth transition to a Republic.
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte and Ambassador Rocky Meade, are co-chairs of the body, which includes Attorney General, Dr. Derrick McKoy; Senate President, Tom Tavares Finson; Government Senator, Ransford Braham; Opposition Senator, Donna Scott Mottley; Member of Parliament, St. Andrew Western, Anthony Hylton; international constitutional law expert, Professor Richard Albert; national constitutional expert, Dr. Lloyd Barnett; consultant counsel and nominee of the leader of the Opposition, Hugh Small; representative of the wider faith-based society, Dr. David Henry; civil society representative, Dr. Nadeen Spence; Chair of the National Committee on Reparations, Lalieta Davis Mattis; and youth advisor, Sujae Boswell.
Christopher Harper will serve as the Committee’s liaison officer.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday (March 22) at Jamaica House in St Andrew, Prime Minister Holness said the knowledge and guidance of the CRC will be crucial in the transition process.
“Their job is significant and I thank all of them for giving of their time and effort, knowledge and guidance to the process. I am confident that we will be able to meet the ambitious timelines that have been set and that we will be one step further in redefining who we are as a country and as a sovereign people,” he said.
He explained that the job of the Committee involves reviewing the work that has already been done, to pull from that body of work what is relevant to today’s circumstance and to give advice and guidance to the overall process.
“There may be the view that it is a straightforward and simple task of just changing the name of the country from that of a constitutional monarchy to a republic; that is not the case. There are many legal steps that we have to go through and there is the matter of a referendum, the outcome of which no one can predict,” he said, noting that the Government is committed to the process.
“This is not a partisan endeavor and I want to give the public the assurance that whatever we do, we will be acting in the best interest of the people of Jamaica,” he said.
Minister Malahoo Forte, in her remarks, informed that the committee will be meeting next Wednesday (March 29).
“The work has commenced in earnest. We settled the terms of reference for the committee this morning with an extremely ambitious timeline. I am grateful that all committee members have committed to working to achieving the goals along the way,” she said.
She explained that the terms of reference agree that the work will be undertaken in phases, “and we are focusing on phase one, which will abolish the constitutional monarchy and establish the Republic of Jamaica and related matters… . We looked at a timeline to get the Bill to Parliament in the shortest possible time”.
She pledged that the nation will be kept abreast of the process not only through media engagement but with statements in the Parliament.
The Committee’s purpose is to provide expert guidance and oversight to the Government and people of Jamaica during the constitutional reform process and implement recommendations on the consensuses reached.
The Committee is also expected to build consensus in areas where it has been eroded or is non-existent on important matters related to the process.
The body will be required to assess how the passage of time has impacted the recommendations of the 1995 Joint Select Committee on the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Report.
Members will, additionally, advise on what fresh perspectives should be considered in light of previous and current national, regional, or international developments and propose any necessary modifications to update the recommendations for implementation.
The Committee will further evaluate the recommendations on the establishment of the Office of a President, advise on the nature, qualification, tenure of the incumbent, and the legislative, executive, or ceremonial powers to be exercised by that individual.
The Government intends to hold a referendum relating to Jamaica’s proposed transition to a Republic.
The work will be done in three phases.