We have always felt that the very technical language used in the constitution does not encourage the average Jamaican to look at the document, much more take the time to read it.
So we were more than pleased when members of the committee established to reform the constitution told us a few weeks ago that one of the changes they propose to make was the introduction of a preamble to reflect the aspirations of the Jamaican people, written in simple terms.
According to Mrs Marlene Malahoo Forte, co-chair of the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC), the preamble — which is now being drafted — will show self-determination, our developmental aspiration, and be reflective of our common values.
We await that draft and expect that, as is being done now with the broader conversation about reforming the constitution, the committee will share the preamble widely with the public for their perusal and discussion.
We also hope that this reform exercise will result in a document that, as promised, can be read and easily understood by every Jamaican, regardless of their station, as there is no challenging the fact that the constitution, the country's supreme law, outlines the fundamental rights of our citizens and guarantees the protection of those rights.
It is against that background that we welcome Justice David Batts's just-published book that sets out to educate Jamaicans about the law and the constitution.
Our quick examination of the book, appropriately titled The Law and Constitution for Every Jamaican, shows that it achieves Justice Batts's objective of getting Jamaicans to understand the rights and duties that go with citizenship. Indeed, as deputy director of public prosecutions Mr Jeremy Taylor stated at the launch of the book, it is "written for the layman interested in law or general affairs", as Justice Batts anticipated that readers may come from all backgrounds.
A report on the book in today's Observer highlights a section of the foreword written by Caribbean Court of Justice President Justice Adrian Saunders in which he complements Justice Batts for methodically going through each of the constitution's 10 chapters, "explaining in simple language the essence of what each chapter conveys".
The release of Justice Batts's book at this time is, we believe, fortuitous and can help the constitution reform consultation process. He has done Jamaica a great service that will be appreciated more as time passes. We admire his discipline and high self-motivation in takng the project to completion.
Jamaicans who are serious about justice and the law, we expect, will be very encouraged by the fact that an eminent member of the judiciary has seen it fit to assist the public with basic understanding of the law. Hopefully, it will enter the text book system for students at the secondary level.
Maybe, just maybe, others so knowledgeable will do likewise.
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