New framework for custodes and JPs in Jamaica under a republic

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Flag map of Jamaica. Image courtesy of Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

The Ministry of Justice is developing a comprehensive framework that will guide the functions of Custodes and Justices of the Peace (JPs) when Jamaica transitions from a constitutional onarchy system of governance to a republic.

This was disclosed by Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, in a media release.  She advised that the roles of custodes and JPs will not be minimised. “I know [Justice] Minister [Hon. Delroy] Chuck has been building out a comprehensive framework… so [that] when the head of state changes from a monarch to a president, some consequential changes will happen. But I do believe we still have a place for the head of state to be represented through custodes and then for justices [of the peace] down the line”, she explained.

“I can’t now tell you what the cosmetic changes will be because we are still in the process of building out [that] substantial comprehensive framework. [But] I believe that whatever will emerge will, perhaps, be tweaking of the form, but the substance will essentially be the same,” the Minister added. She was addressing a virtual sensitisation session for custodes and JPs islandwide on the topic – “Moving Away from the Monarchy to a Republic and Constitutional Reform” on Wednesday (21 June).

Minister Malahoo Forte noted that whatever modifications occur will be aimed at ensuring that custodes and JPs can perform more effectively in promoting peace and order in Jamaica. She pointed out that Minister Chuck is “very passionate” about how much more JPs can do to make progress on the challenges the society faces. Malahoo Forte said, within this context, “you are important leaders in your communities, and we are not going to be changing that for the worse”.

She maintained that, ultimately, the road to Jamaica becoming a republic will be “lengthy and complex” but has become necessary to enable the nation to achieve self-determination and its developmental goals. “Let me state, unequivocally, that this is a decision by Jamaica as a result of our own internal reflections and a belief that in order to reflect what it means to be Jamaican and in order to achieve our self-determination and realise our development goals, this is a change that needs to be made”, Minister Malahoo Forte emphasised.

Minister Chuck urged JPs to actively make recommendations and provide feedback to the constitutional reform process. “I want to thank all the Justices of the Peace who have joined, and ask the JPs… [to] participate in the discussions when Minister Malahoo Forte and other members of the [Constitutional Reform] Committee come to your town or community… and elaborate more on some of the issues,” he said.

Minister Chuck also assured the JPs that their role will not “vary much” when Jamaica achieves its new status as a republic.

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