In tabling the motion yesterday, Mr. Phillips said that Jamaica over the years has been considering whether to abandon the monarchy, but no action has been taken and called for the process to be completed before Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary as an independent nation.
The Manchester North Western Member of Parliament has recommended that a committee be established to undertake a six month public education programme on Jamaica becoming a republic, “and thereafter hold a national referendum to approve the necessary constitutional changes.”
He’s also recommending that the referendum be held on the same date as the next Local Government Election, now scheduled to be held by February 2022.
In September Barbados announced it plans to become a republic by November next year. Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and Dominica have all become republics since attaining Independence.
At Independence, Jamaica and all other former British West Indian colonies retained most elements of the constitutional system they were accustomed to, including, notably, retaining the Monarch as Head of State, represented locally by a Governor-General.
There have been many calls for substantial constitutional reforms in Jamaica over succeeding decades, with the last major consideration of the matter taking place in 1992.
That process did not achieve much however, with the only significant change emerging from the initial deliberations coming in 2011; the insertion of a Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as the new Chapter 3 of the Jamaican Constitution.
In its Editorial today, the Gleaner seems to have agreed with the sentiments of the Manchester North Western Member of Parliament, and quoted an article by lawyer and constitutional scholar, Dr Lloyd Barnett, as saying that the 60th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence is a significant milestone upon which Prime Minister Andrew Holness can place a historical imprint by the abolition of the monarchy.
The bother points he said were: Enacting the Constitution in Jamaica, by the island’s Parliament;
• Entrenching in the Constitution the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ); and
• Establishing the CCJ as the final court, thereby abolishing appeal to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Barnett said "removing the Queen as head of state is a subject on which there has long been bi-partisan consensus. The parties – Mr Holness’ JLP and the People’s National Party (PNP) – once disagreed on whether there should be an executive president, favoured by the PNP, or a partially ceremonial one, akin to the governor general. There is now common ground on the latter."
On the question of repatriating the Constitution, Jamaica’s fundamental law, Dr Barnett said, it is an “appendix to an Order in Council made by the Queen in England” and, therefore, a “subsidiary instrument to a British Order”.
“It is signed by an Englishman (W. G. Agnew), who is unknown to Jamaica and who made no contribution to our political or constitutional development,” Dr Barnett wrote. “This situation is repugnant to our sovereignty and sense of national pride.”
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