Sunday, June 12, 2011

Real Sanctions Needed

The dual citizenship saga has demonstrated the clear and urgent need for effective deterrents in respect of breaches in the supreme law of the land – the Constitution – by those sworn to uphold its provisions. It is evident that political expediency has trumped principle. Our law makers have effectively turned a blind eye to their colleagues who knowingly and blatantly perpetuate breaches of the Constitution.

The offending parties wait to be “discovered” and then take advantage of the pathetically slow pace of justice to prolong the breach. The substantial cost of civil litigation have forced some to fess up and hurriedly take the appropriate action to regularize their occupancy. However, the cost of litigation apart, the offenders are able to keep their ill-gotten gains – the proceeds of their constitutional crimes.

As presently constituted, the penalties under the Constitution are laughable and have never been enforced publicly in breach. In the absence of a culture of transparency, accountability and resignation, it becomes necessary to outline in detail real sanctions to deter would-be offenders and punish those lacking the requisite political integrity. To that end, it is being proposed that the Parliament consider amending the Constitution of Jamaica to include the following provision:

Where a Member of Parliament has occupied a seat in Parliament in breach of the Constitutional provisions for a specific period of time, that Member shall not be entitled to the remuneration and pension provisions that have been paid or will be due to be paid for that specific period of time.