Marlene Malahoo Forte
By Kimone Witter
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs and Co-Chair of the Constitutional Reform Committee, Marlene Malahoo Forte, says she is looking forward to robust debate on Jamaica's final appellate court.
But she says removal of the British monarch as head of state is the focus of the committee at this stage.
The People's National Party recently reiterated its stance that it will not be supporting the removal of the British monarch without the simultaneous removal of the UK Privy Council.
Speaking with journalists Thursday, Mrs Malahoo Forte said the government and opposition have agreed to a phased implementation of the work of the constitutional reform committee.
She said discussion on the final court of appeal will begin after tabling of the bill to amend the deeply entrenched provisions in the Constitution.
"I know that the parliamentary opposition has expressed very strong views and is calling on the government to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The truth is that the issue of which final court for Jamaica, and in particular for the Republic of Jamaica, is a matter on which views are divided.
"We will have to have a full debate on the issue. We will have to ventilate all of the sub-issues. The concerns about access to justice are real. The concerns about the quality of justice are real. So I am looking forward to a full discussion on the issue of which final court for Jamaica," she advised.
Mrs Malahoo Forte said the government will declare its stance on the CCJ at the appropriate time.