Ja­maica moves to­wards ditch­ing Queen, im­peach­ment leg­is­la­tion and term lim­its

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - – Caribbean360

Leg­is­la­tion to al­low im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cials and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments to tran­si­tion Ja­maica to a repub­lic, and fixed elec­tion dates and term lim­its are on the pri­or­ity list of the Ja­maica Govern­ment for 2016.

Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Sir Pa­trick Allen high­lighted those plans, among oth­ers, as he de­liv­ered the Throne Speech dur­ing the 2016/17 cer­e­mo­nial open­ing of par­lia­ment.

He told mem­bers of par­lia­ment and se­na­tors the is­sues were among the “ma­jor ac­tion items” on the govern­ment’s leg­isla­tive agenda for this year.

List­ing those items, Sir Pa­trick said a Con­sti­tu­tion (Amend­ment) Bill will be laid to, among other things, re­place the Queen with a non-ex­ec­u­tive Pres­i­dent as Ja­maica’s Head of State; par­lia­ment will see leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate fixed elec­tion dates and term lim­its for the prime min­is­ter; leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide for im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings to be brought against cor­rupt pub­lic of­fi­cials and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans is on the cards; and an In­tegrity Com­mis­sion Bill will es­tab­lish a sin­gle anti-cor­rup­tion body. Changes are also com­ing in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to Sir Pa­trick, there will be fur­ther amend­ment to the Dan­ger­ous Drugs Act “to give full le­gal­iza­tion for mar­i­juana to be used for spec­i­fied pur­poses.”

The Gov­er­nor Gen­eral re­ported that a Crim­i­nal Jus­tice (Plea Ne­go­ti­a­tions & Agree­ments) (Amend­ment) Bill, pro­vid­ing for re­duced sen­tences on guilty pleas, will be laid; and a Ju­di­ca­ture (Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate) (Amend­ment) Bill will give the pros­e­cu­tion the right to ap­peal in­ad­e­quate sen­tences and al­low for a re­trial where a ver­dict has been con­tam­i­nated, by jury tam­per­ing, for ex­am­ple.

The Ju­di­ca­ture (Res­i­dent Mag­is­trate) (Amend­ment) Bill will also in­tro­duce stiffer penal­ties for ob­struct­ing or per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice; a Ju­di­cial Ac­count­abil­ity leg­is­la­tion will be en­acted to en­sure ju­di­cial ac­count­abil­ity for per­for­mance and be­hav­iour in of­fice; a Mu­tual As­sis­tance (Crim­i­nal Mat­ters) (Amend­ment) Bill will al­low for the in­tro­duc­tion of ev­i­dence by TV link and video-recorded ev­i­dence; and amend­ments will be made to the Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons (Pre­ven­tion, Sup­pres­sion and Pun­ish­ment) Act, to prose­cute of­fences un­der the Act with­out a jury, Sir Pa­trick added.

In his speech, which had as its theme ‘Build­ing a Part­ner­ship for Pros­per­ity’, Sir Pa­trick out­lined other pri­or­i­ties for the govern­ment.

Sir Pa­trick Allen an­nounced in his Throne Speech that laws to al­low for im­peach­ment, a fixed date for elec­tions, and term lim­its for prime min­is­ters are high on govern­ment’s leg­isla­tive agenda this year.

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