Thu | Jun 20, 2024

Restart the constitutional reform process

Published:Tuesday | June 11, 2024 | 12:06 AM


Peter Espeut wrote a forthright column on May 17, ‘The wages of ginnalship’, which in part stated “The Jamaican people called for public education on our present Constitution, public discussion on the options going forward, and public consultation before there was any claim of consensus. It hasn’t happened! The ginnalship here is that the government is claiming that a few 30-second jingles equates to public education, and that three (what they call) ‘town halls’, where the CRC advises the small audience of what they plan to do, equated to public consultation. No one is fooled!”

Now we hear that the CRC has prepared a Phase I Report which has been sent to Cabinet for their approval. Obviously, the CRC members have come to agreement on the one unresolved issue, but the public knows not what that agreement is. There could have been very little public input into that decision, and in the overall content of the report.”

As a concerned Jamaican citizen who has been following the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC), I have come to the conclusion that the entire process thus far smacks of disrespect and contempt for the Jamaican people. Yet the CRC has now submitted a phase one report to the Cabinet and, thereafter, will be sent to a joint select committee of Parliament for debate. I concur with Rev Espeut that this could be accurately termed government/CRC political constitutional ginnalship of the highest order. How can the government-appointed CRC members sign off on a phase one report when those final recommendations were not discussed with the citizens? Also, no proper educational campaign was put into place for the people.

The Jamaican people should decide, through a national referendum, whether we sever ties with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or not. Why can’t there be an informed debate and discussion about this?

Within this entire constitutional reform process, there needs to be consensus between the two political parties and, most importantly, with the citizens of this country. Jamaica, as an independent country, should sever ties with the Privy Council and abolish the King as Jamaica’s head of state, a process that has been poorly handled by the CRC.

The CRC should have had at least 30 members from various sectors, and at least two persons from the community level. Rev Espeut is correct when he wrote that “This is where we are with the current effort at reforming Jamaica’s Constitution. It has not really properly begun.” Where do we go from here? There are suggestions to restart the process.


Montego Bay