MEMORANDUM OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
The Government has recognized a need for reform of many aspects of the Constitution in order to meet the needs of post independence Jamaica. To this end, a Constitutional Commission was formed to examine various issues. A Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament was appointed with a mandate to undertake such reform. The Constitutional Commission made recommendations to the Joint Select Committee which in tum presented its final report to Parliament for approval
The then Government decided that pending more comprehensive amendments to the Constitution, it was desirous to give effect to the proposals emanating from the Final Report relating to the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms which would constitute a guarantee by the State to preserve and protect those rights and freedoms.
A Bill to that effect was considered by succesive Joint Select Committees of Parliament which recommended various amendments. The report of the latest Committee was tabled but the dissolution of Parliament prevented any further action in relation thereto. The Government has decided to table a new Bill which incorporates the recommendations made by that Joint Select Committee.
The provisions relating to protection from torture or inhuman or degrading punishment restate the existing provisions in the Constitution. It is intended that final determination in that regard will be left as a matter to be determined by the outcome of a free conscience vote of Members of the Houses of Parliament on the question of the retention or abolition of the death penalty.
Consequently, this Bill seeks to amend the Constitution in order to give effect to that decision.
The Bill provides for protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals subject to such measures as are required for state governance in periods of public disaster or emergency or as are regarded as demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
The protected rights and freedoms include the following(a)
life, liberty and the security of the person;
(b) freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observance of religious
and political doctrines;
(c) freedom of expression;
(d) the right to seek, distribute or disseminate to any other person,
information, opinions and ideas through any media;
(e) freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
(g) due process of law;
(h) equality before the law;
(i) equitable and humane treatment by any public authority in the exercise of any function;
(j) freedom from discrimination, on the ground of race, social class, colour, religion, gender, place of origin or political preference;
(k) protection of property rights;
(1) protection from search of the person, respect for private and family life, privacy of home and of communication;
(m) entitlement of every child
(i) to such measures of protection as are required by the status of a minor or as part of the family, society and the State; and
(ti) who is a citizen to publicly funded education in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary levels;
(n) entitlement of a person charged with a criminal offence or detained in pursuance of a provision of any enactment to communicate with and be visited by his spouse, partner or family member, religious; counsellor and a medical practitioner of his choice;
(0) enjoyment of a healthy and productive environment free from threat or injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage;
(P) entitlement of every citizen who is registered to vote, to participate and vote in free and fair elections;
(q) entitlement of every citizen to be granted a passport and not be denied or deprived thereof except by due process of law; and
(r) entitlement of a person who is charged with or detained, in connection with a criminal offence to communicate with and retain an attorney-at-law.
as tabled by BRUCE GOLDING Prime Minister 2008