Former Jamaican Prime Minister and President of the People’s National Party - PNP, P.J. Patterson told members of the Party on Sunday that they needed to remain true to the PNP’s long-term commitment of securing Republican status for Jamaica. Speaking at the public session of the 76th annual conference of the PNP at the National Arena in Kingston, Mr. Patterson emphasized the Party’s determination to see Jamaica “finally sever once and for all sever the judicial links to an Imperial Court.” Mr. Patterson was making reference to Jamaica acceding to the appellate division of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). As Prime Minister during the 1990s, Mr. Patterson saw to the establishment of a Commission to examine options for reform of the Jamaican Constitution, including the establishment of a Republic. This would, among other things, see the Queen of England being replaced as the Jamaican Head of State. The discussions between the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) broke down on the question of what form of republic Jamaica should become – one with a ceremonial president or an executive president. The PNP was in favour of an executive presidency, while the JLP wanted a ceremonial president with limited powers, akin to the office of the Governor General under the existing constitutional arrangement. That matter has not yet been fully resolved. In a judgment handed down in 2004 the UK based Privy Council ruled that the manner in which Jamaica had gone about joining the appellate division of the CCJ was unconstitutional, as a consequence of which the country has had to continue relying on the Privy Council as its final court of appeal, while utilising only the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean court. Mr. Patterson also endorsed another matter of great historical resonance – the growing demand by Caribbean people for reparations from Europe for the evils of slavery. “We cannot be silent in the cry for social justice by the payment of Reparation long overdue,” he declared. The PNP, he said, must remain committed “to fulfill the mission on which our Founders embarked 76 years ago, for if we fail, generations to come will not hold us blameless.” Mr. Patterson was PNP President and Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1992 to early 2006.
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