The following is extracted from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS). Download the document here.
Jamaica became an independent nation on August 6, 1962. Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy, based on a system of representative and responsible government.
The form of government is that of a constitutional monarchy. Jamaica is a unitary state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Constitution under which Jamaica assumed independence in 1962 is primarily based on the British socio-political culture and is modelled on the Westminster-Whitehall (British), System of Government.
Citizens have the right to choose, in free elections, those who will govern the country. Each citizen is subject to the “rule of law”, which means that the law of the land is supreme and that all people are equal before the law.
The structure of the Government of Jamaica is outlined in the ten chapters of the Jamaica Constitution. Chapters are included on citizenship, fundamental rights and freedoms, the Governor- General, Parliament, executive powers, the Judicature, finance and the public service.
The Queen is head of state, and, on the advice of the Prime Minister, she appoints a Governor- General to be her representative in Jamaica. The Governor-General must have no affiliation to any political party.
Neither the Queen nor the Governor-General has any real authority in conducting the administration of the country. Real legislative and executive responsibilities rest with the elected representatives of the people.
The Governor-General represents the Queen on ceremonial occasions such as the opening of Parliament, the presentation of honours and military parades.
Under the Constitution, he is given authority to act in many matters e.g. in appointing and disciplining officers of the civil service, in proroguing Parliament and so on, but only in few cases is he empowered to act entirely on his own discretion. The Governor-General also exercises the prerogative of mercy on behalf of the Queen.
In exercising the prerogative of mercy (including the power to grant pardon to any person who has been sentenced to death), the Governor-General acts on the advice of the Jamaican Privy Council.
Privy Council Of Jamaica
The Privy Council of Jamaica consists of six members who are appointed by the GovernorGeneral, after consultation with the Prime Minister. The functions of the Privy Council are usually limited to advising the Governor-General on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and the discipline of the civil service, local government officers, and the police, in cases where appeals are made.
The Legislature is next.