|Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, is reminding the public that the constitutional reform process is being done in phases to avoid past errors made in attempting to amend the Constitution.|
Minister Malahoo Forte made the statement during a keynote address at the swearing-in ceremony for Justices of the Peace (JPs) for the parish of Westmoreland on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
The Minister informed the newly commissioned JPs that “there is no room for departure from the procedure set out in the Constitution. If the procedure is not faithfully followed, the changes will be of no legal effect. The Constitution has a different procedure for the three types of provisions it contains. The level of complexity is dependent on the level of protection that is given to the provision.”
She revealed that in order to achieve the goals of becoming a Republic and ‘Jamaicanising’ the Constitution, a Bill for an Act of Parliament will have to be tabled and passed in both Houses of Parliament with a two-thirds majority vote in each House. She further disclosed that “after the Bill has been passed in the Parliament and before it can become law, it will have to be approved by the majority of people who are registered to vote in general elections. Their vote will take place in a type of election called a referendum.”
The Minister also noted that within the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC), there is no disagreement with respect to abolishing the Monarchy and that every other important constitutional change which features the Monarchy is predicated on this important first change. She emphasised that “if we delay making this change, we may not achieve the other goals we aspire for.”
The CRC has been appointed with an advisory and oversight role to assist with the nation’s transition from a Constitutional Monarchy to a Constitutional Republic. The agreed Terms of Reference set two broad goals for the work being done in Phase 1.
The first goal is to amend the deeply entrenched provisions of the Constitution in order to abolish the Constitutional Monarchy and establish a Constitutional Republic within the Parliamentary Cabinet System. The second goal is to have the Jamaica Independence Constitution, as amended, enacted by the Parliament of Jamaica and approved by the people of Jamaica.