Former Jamaican Prime Minister Calls for Administration to Sever Imperial Ties with UK

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson has called on the Portia Simpson Miller-led administration to proceed with efforts to sever ties with the UK-based Privy Council and the queen as Head of State.

Patterson, in an address at the 76th annual conference of the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on Sunday, said the party should not allow itself to be derailed in the move to become a republic.

He also said Jamaica should “sever the link to an imperial court,” in reference to the Privy Council.

For years, Jamaica has been divided on the issue of whether to make the Caribbean Court of Justice the island’s final appellate court.

Patterson said that “we will not be held blameless” by the next generation if we” fail to do these and other things to secure a prosperous future.

Patterson, as prime minister during the 1990s, saw to the establishment of a commission to examine options for reform of the Jamaican Constitution, including the establishment of a Republic.

The discussions between the PNP and the opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) broke down on the question of what form of republic Jamaica should become – one with a ceremonial president or an executive president.

The PNP was in favor of an executive presidency, while the JLP wanted a ceremonial president with limited powers.

Concerning the CCJ, in a judgment handed down in 2004, the UK-based Privy Council ruled that the manner in which Jamaica had gone about joining the appellate division of the CCJ was unconstitutional, as a consequence the country has had to continue relying on the Privy Council as its final court of appeal, while utilizing only the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean court.

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