The Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs has officially named the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) which will provide guidance and oversight to Jamaica’s transition from a Constitutional Monarchy to a Republic.
Prime Minster Andrew Holness made the announcement at a press conference at Jamaica House on Wednesday.
He said the committee boasts representation from a diverse cross-section of the society, including the Government, the parliamentary Opposition, the attorney general, constitutional law and governance experts, representatives from academia and civil society, along with a youth advisor.
The committee is to be chaired by the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte.
The other members include:
o Ambassador Rocky Meade – Co-Chair/Office of the Prime Minister
o Dr Derrick McKoy – Attorney General of Jamaica
o Tom Tavares-Finson – President of the Senate and a commissioner of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica
o Ransford Braham – Government senator
o Donna Scott-Mottley – Opposition senator
o Anthony Hylton – Opposition Member of Parliament
o Professor Richard Albert – International constitutional law expert
o Dr Lloyd Barnett – national constitutional law expert
o Hugh Small, KC – consultant counsel and nominee of the Leader of the Opposition
o Dr David Henry – representing the wider society and faith-based segment of the society
o Dr Nadeen Spence – civil society representative and social and political commentator
o Laleta Davis Mattis – representing the National Reparations Committee
o Sujae Boswell – youth advisor
A release from the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs said while the work of the committee is critical to achieving the reform goals on which the country already has some level of consensus, Prime Minister Holness stated that “the narrative, education and arguments should be presented to the public so that they are indeed, not just bystanders, but are included in the process.”
Malahoo Forte stated that the establishment of the committee is a step in the right direction for the country’s constitutional reform process, and expressed “confidence that the committee will be able to complete its assigned responsibilities”.
She added that, “the work of the committee will be done in three phases to craft a modern and new Constitution which reflects an appreciation and understanding of our cultural heritage, governance challenges and development aspirations, and which embodies the will of the people of Jamaica.”
The committee has been mandated to:
o Assess how the passage of time has impacted the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform (JSCCER) contained in its Final Report (1995), which were submitted to and approved by the Parliament
o Evaluate the said recommendations of the JSCCER on the establishment of the office of President
o Assist in co-ordinating the required parliamentary cross-aisle and nationwide consultation and collaboration during the various phases of the reform work; and
o help to educate the electorate on their role in the referendum process.
The committee, which will receive technical and administrative support from a secretariat, managed by the ministry, will be required to serve between March 2023 and, all things being equal, no later than the end of the constitutional life of the present Parliament.