"The Bill, which has been before Parliament for nearly 17 years, provides for the protection of property rights; protection from searches; respect for private and family life and privacy of home and of communication; and the entitlement of every child who is a citizen to publicly funded education, in a public education institution at the pre-primary and primary levels, among other things.
The JLP, in its manifesto leading to the 2007 general elections, had pledged to seek entrenchment in the Constitution of a new Charter of Rights to guarantee the fundamental rights of every citizen and establish a Citizens' Protection Bureau. The bureau is expected to have expanded powers to defend the rights of and secure redress for citizens whose constitutional rights may be violated.
Commenting ahead of the historic vote yesterday, Simpson Miller said the Opposition had decided to take the high road as far as completing the discussions on the Charter was concerned.
"The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was started by our administration... and the present Government completed the charge. In our almost 49 years of Independence we have never had an amendment of an entrenched Constitutional provision largely because an Opposition could not resist using the effective veto to reflexively frustrate the policies of the Government of the day and I am pleased to declare that this Opposition is going to take the historic and progressive decision that we are putting principle and the interest of the people above party politics," she said."
Meanwhile Letter writing campaigner and activist returned to business after a short hiatus following a threat issued to him via email, he contended in his last letter to the Gleaner that:
".............Ideally, this charter should be as inclusive as possible and create a framework for a consistent approach to the rights of all Jamaicans, including the minority of those whose sexual orientation currently makes them vulnerable to hate crimes and other forms of institutionalised discrimination.
Currently, institutionalised discrimination is inconsistent in Jamaica. On the one hand, Section 13.1 of the 2004 revision to the Public Service Staff Orders - which has the force of law - prohibits discrimination in the civil service on the grounds of, inter alia, sexual orientation. On the other hand, the proposed charter, which will govern all other Jamaicans, contains no such grounds for non-discrimination.
Further, the proposed charter re-entrenches the country's 1864 anti-buggery law, despite the fact that this law has been held to constitute discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by treaty bodies to which Jamaica has subscribed.
Whoever drafted the 2004 Public Service Staff Orders understood that no good purpose could possibly be served by criminalising the private lives of consenting adults. This progressive and enlightened view needs to be reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms."
I am, etc.,