Concerns have been and continue to be expressed about the Constitutional Reform Committee which was established last month. Some of those concerns include what access the Jamaican public will have to the workings of the Committee, via the broadcasting of its meetings and the publication of its minutes, for example. The level and type of public consultation that will take place is also being questioned, particularly as the Minister of Legal & Constitutional Affairs who is co-chair of the Committee, Minister Malahoo-Forte, has said that she plans to table the draft Bill in Parliament next month – in May.
Last week Wednesday (April 19, 2023), the TVJ programme All Angles focused on aspects of the Constitutional Reform Committee and its work. Host Dionne Jackson Miller had as panelists on the programme Minister Malahoo-Forte and Senator Scott-Mottley, a member of the Committee. (Carol Narcisse was also to join the discussion by Zoom, but because of technical difficulties affecting the sound was unable to.)
At one point in the discussion Senator Scott-Mottley referred to a large volume of background documents provided to members of the Committee & on Twitter I suggested that those documents could be shared online with the public.
Along the same lines, earlier this month I had wondered whether the minutes of the Committee meetings would be made public. I am certainly not the only person thinking this should be done.
Last week Thursday (April 20, 2023), I made the following two Access to Information requests to the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs:
- For copies of the background documents mentioned by Senator Scott-Mottley that had been provided to members of the Constitutional committee
- For copies of the minutes of all meetings held to date by the Constitutional Reform Committee established in 2023.
On Sunday (April 23, 2023), I received an email response from the Ministry, providing 27 documents –
“See below background documents which were provided to the members of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC)…”
– as well as a copy of the Terms of Reference of the Committee.
I also received the following commitment – “Please note that the Minutes are being reviewed and will be shared after they have been confirmed.”
No timeline was given for this, however, so I will wait to see when they are provided and whether there are any redactions.
(As an aside, I must say that this is one of the quickest ATI responses I have ever received.)
I am not seeing the Committee’s background documents posted on the Ministry’s website, which would really be a good idea. In the meantime, I have posted them below and have grouped them for convenience.
Articles about Constitutional Reform
(The above report is listed as an article in the documents I received & I have left that description in place.)