KINGSTON, March 23, 2022 - The People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) has welcomed the news coming from both Government and Opposition that plans are moving ahead to make Jamaica a Republic.
A statement from the actingPNPYO president Dexroy Martin indicated that: Of particular note is the Prime Minister’s new embrace of the idea, which he recently touted as mere symbolism. He has now joined the PNP, and other groups, who have been championing this cause from as early as 1962.
A corollary to that move is Jamaica divesting itself of Appeals to Her Majesty in Council through the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), and acceding to the jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as a final court of appeal. The anachronistic system of appeals to the JCPC has no place in Jamaica’s judicial system and makes a mockery of our independence.
Acting President Dexroy Martin says that “this is the lowest hanging of all fruits when it comes to constitutional reform and the modernization of the Jamaican society.” If the Government is sincere about completing our independence and truly wants to send a signal in our 60th year, the Prime Minister must instruct the necessary officers to bring the required Bills to Parliament for debate and passage.
The PNPYO contends that that given the fact that the Opposition’s support is firmly behind this move, there is no reason for any further delay. Jamaicans will recall that twice, the PNP has sought to fix this anomaly in our judicial system but twice the Jamaica Labour Party voted against it, thus preventing this needed change. Mr. Martin notes that the government does not have much to do. ”The Bills have been drafted since 2015, they just need to be dusted off and updated. All it takes is the will by the Government to start the process”, said Mr. Martin.
While reparations and Republic status would be welcome, reparations are not in our remit to give, Britain must accept its error and compensate, which we believe they have an obligation to do. Moving to republic status is a lengthy and costly process, which may not be completed this year. This is further compounded by the Prime Minister’s announcement, on multiple occasions, of no elections in the year of Jamaica’s 60th independence. Moving to being a republic requires a referendum, which has all the trappings of a national election. Replacing the Privy Council does not suffer from any of these maladies and would be a welcome symbol and practical commitment to completing the journey of independence.
Mr. Martin continues that “it does not make sense to remove the Queen as Head of State but still appeal to her through the Privy Council. It makes more sense to sever ties with the JCPC and then remove Her Majesty as Jamaica’s Head of State. Furthermore, judges of the Privy Council have been on record prodding Commonwealth countries to exit the Privy Council, there is no good reason for us to be hanging on for dear life, especially when the majority of citizens cannot access the court due to visa restrictions and travel costs”.
The PNPYO is calling on the Government of Jamaica to move with alacrity and bring the three necessary Bills to Parliament before the end of April so that the process can commence. We also ask that a stakeholder team, including the Opposition, the Judiciary (involving the Caribbean Court of Justice) be set up to begin the public education around this issue, and the implications for how we move forward.
The time has come for Jamaica to turn the corner on our colonial past and the legacies it has bequeathed to us. Where it is within our powers to enact this, there should be no delay – END APPEALS TO THE PRIVY COUNCIL NOW!!!!!