JIS News

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has written to Opposition Leader Dr. Ken Baugh on the approach to be taken in the discussions between the Government and the Opposition in arriving at a consensus that would enable the enactment of legislation to amend portions of the Constitution. Mr. Patterson’s letter comes after his statement to Parliament on Tuesday (Feb. 8) and follows a courtesy call paid on him by the Opposition Leader at Jamaica House this morning (Feb. 10).
In his letter, Mr. Patterson said the amendments would embrace a number of areas that appear to enjoy a significant level of agreement in principle, but which could not proceed any further before a number of outstanding issues were resolved.
“I believe the time is now opportune for us to engage in a structured discussion, covering an agreed list of topics with a view to arriving at binding agreements where possible,” the Prime Minister said.
While not seeking to set an agenda for the talks, Mr. Patterson said the areas to be discussed could include finalizing the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the establishing of the Caribbean Court of Justice in respect of both its Original and Appellate Jurisdiction; constitutional amendment as it relates to either abolishing the death penalty or retaining it in its present form as an optional penalty and; the substitution of a republican for a monarchical form of government while retaining the essentials of the present Parliamentary system.
Mr. Patterson has proposed that both sides identify a team of five to six persons which would include, although not confined to Parliamentarians, vested with the skills and competence to address the issues raised.
“It will be necessary for us to set if not an exact timetable, at least a good future date for this group to submit a report, which we can then meet to adopt and implement,” Mr. Patterson stated.
As discussed during the courtesy call, Mr. Patterson said Attorney General, A.J. Nicholson and Opposition Spokesman on Justice Mr. Delroy Chuck, would meet early next week to prepare the ground for the process that has been outlined.

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