Jamaica moves towards ditching Queen, impeachment legislation and term limits
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.