Jamaican republican status on the fast track

The newly-elected government of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in Jamaica has begun initial discussions on the country’s transition to republican status, a government statement issued in New York on Feb. 16 said.

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) said Sandrea Falconer, Minister with responsibility for Information, made the disclosure at a press briefing on Wednesday.

“She said the talks are being led by the ministry of justice and the attorney general’s department, spearheaded by a ministerial committee, which is to make recommendations to cabinet before talks with the opposition begin,” JIS said.

The statement said the same ministerial committee is spearheading discussions for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to become Jamaica’s final court of appeal.

It said the justice ministry and the attorney general’s department are also “playing lead roles in these discussions.”

“It was advised that the two matters (Republican status and CCJ) are to be kept separate,” Falconer said.

In her inaugural speech in January, Simpson Miller indicated that the government intended to begin the process of removing all ties with the British monarchy in becoming a “truly independent nation.”

Currently, under the Jamaican constitution, the country’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. The prime minister is formally appointed into office by the governor-general of Jamaica, who represents the Queen.

Simpson Miller also signaled the administration’s intention to establish the CCJ in its final appellate jurisdiction and “end judicial surveillance from London.”

The CCJ was established as a regional judicial entity, about 11 years ago, to be the final appellate court for member-states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

While Jamaica is a signatory to the establishment of the CCJ, it does not yet use the court, as local cases are still referred to the London-based Privy Council, JIS said.

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