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Pushing for republic while retaining Privy Council ‘ethically unsound’, says NIA

Published:Saturday | May 25, 2024 | 12:13 AMKimone Francis - Senior Staff Reporter
Danielle Archer, principal director of the National Integrity Action.

Calling the removal of King Charles as Jamaica’s head of state without leaving the jurisdiction of the Privy Council “ethically unsound”, the National Integrity Action (NIA) is the latest civil society body to press for the complete severing of ties with Britain.

NIA Principal Director Danielle Archer says the removal of the King does not sufficiently guarantee the loyalty of the country’s leaders to the people of Jamaica.

Archer said the nation’s transition from a constitutional monarchy to a republic must include a solemn commitment to the Jamaican people and not the Parliament of Jamaica.

She said this also requires the removal of the final court of appeal from Britain.

“It is ethically unsound to remove the King and still expect the Privy Council, appointed by the King, to dictate the application and interpretation of Jamaican law. This, essentially, grants another country authority to dictate Jamaica’s laws,” said Archer.

The London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is Jamaica’s final appellate court.

Further, Archer said NIA has noted the concerns regarding Opposition Leader Mark Golding, who earlier this week confirmed his British citizenship.

She said this is permitted by Jamaican law, which also requires that both the governor general, the King’s representative, and the prime minister swear loyalty to the King of the United Kingdom.

She said the issue of whether dual nationals should participate in the governance of Jamaicans is not a matter to be determined by the Parliament without its members actively seeking the opinions of those they represent.

“This issue also affects Jamaicans within the diaspora, and we should fairly consider their views,” Archer said.

Added to that, she said constitutional reform is not the sole purview of the Government and those it hand-picks.

“Rather, it is a collective responsibility that should include comprehensive education of the public about the many areas covered by the Constitution. This will empower every Jamaican to understand and contribute to what they want the Constitution to include,” the NIA head said.

She said town halls are insufficient and suggested that the methods used by political parties when conducting election campaigns should be employed to engage every Jamaican on the Constitution.

This gives them an opportunity to participate, Archer said.

She said it is the NIA’s position that amending the Constitution without the involvement of every Jamaican is “ill-omened and ill-conceived”.

“NIA calls on the Government to fully involve all Jamaicans before amending any aspect of the current Constitution. We still have an opportunity to do the right thing,” Archer said.

The call comes amid a constitutional reform process and renewed debates over whether the Privy Council should be retained as Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

The parliamentary Opposition believes that Jamaica should join the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The Government has opted to retain the Privy Council for now.

Earlier this month, the Privy Council announced that the British government approved a proposal by its president, Lord Reed, for overseas judges to sit on the court.

kimone.francis@gleanerjm.com