Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Hanging on to oppressive, monarchical footprint

Published:Wednesday | February 19, 2020 | 12:35 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Section 48 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution mandates the Parliament to “.... make laws for the peace, order and good government of Jamaica.” For a bill to become law, it must have the Queen of England’s representative – the governor general – “assenting” to the new law.

The Constitution makes it clear at Section 60 that, without the assent of the Queen (through the governor general), the bill cannot become law and be enforceable. Under Section 61, the Queen’s role does not end at assent, but goes further to state that every law must have prescribed words of enactment, as follows: “Be it enacted by The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty …”.

So, passage through both houses of Parliament – where our elected representatives vote on new legislation – is not sufficient for that vote to produce law … the Queen’s blessing is a must!

When the court sits in Jamaica, all sessions commence with “God save the Queen”. So, from birth to application, laws are created for our peace, order, and good government, with a foreign monarch’s sanction. The role of that monarch in our enslavement for three centuries, followed by colonial rule for over a century, makes it difficult to understand why that “royal” sanction has been retained after our independence in 1962.

The British Courts do not commence their sittings with “God save the Queen”, but we in Jamaica are hanging on to her with the pride of a bleached-faced, low-self-esteemed African-Jamaican. Learned men and women seem satisfied with this huge, oppressive, monarchical footprint plastered all over our institutions of justice. True independence and mental slavery can never be companions.

BERT S. SAMUELS

Attorney-at-Law