Gov't considering referendum to decide on Jamaica's final appellate court

Marlene Malahoo Forte
By Nakinskie Robinson   
The government says that a referendum to decide on Jamaica's final appellate court is being considered in light of the deadlock in the constitutional reform process.
The idea of the public vote was raised again by Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Marlene Malahoo Forte, during Wednesday's post-Cabinet press briefing.
Her comment contrasts with that of Opposition Leader Mark Golding, who on Tuesday voiced disapproval of a public vote on the matter.
Mr. Golding believes the public should not be burdened with the decision, while also stating that it is the government's responsibility and that it alone had the power and authority.
Mrs. Malahoo Forte, however, says a public poll could establish much needed common consent. 
"When you're making substantial shifts in the nation, you may sometimes have to make an indicative call from the people. And the matter of the court is a fundamental matter. In one breath I've heard it said, don't take the pulse of the people on it. But if we remain as divided as we are, we may have to hear from the people formally," she argued. 
"At one stage, there were three options before us," the minister noted, pointing to Jamaica acceding to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice, retaining the Privy Council, or the country establishing its own final court. 
The JLP has in the past indicated that it believes a referendum should be held to decide whether to remove the Privy Coucil as Jamaica's final appellate court.
However, removing the Privy Council as the country's apex court does not require a referendum, but the support of a majority of all members in both Houses of Parliament.

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