Jamaica’s Constitution as it relates to “allegiance to a foreign power”

1. Section 39 of the Constitution of Jamaica provides that a Commonwealth citizen aged 21 years or upwards who has been ordinarily resident in Jamaica for the immediately preceding twelve (12) months is qualified to be appointed a Senator or elected as a member of the House of Representatives.

2. Section 40 provides that no person who by his own act is under acknowledgment of allegiance to a foreign power (meaning a non-Commonwealth country) shall be qualified to be appointed a Senator or elected to the House of Representatives.

Commentary: Theoretically, it does not matter where that Commonwealth citizen was born so long as he does not have allegiance to a non-Commonwealth country. It means, among other things, that:

(a) a non-Jamaican who is a citizen of Zimbabwe, Kenya, India or Pakistan can enter Parliament here after a mere twelve months residence; but

(b) a Jamaican-born person who has lived in Jamaica all his or her life, cannot enter Parliament if he or she happens to have allegiance to a non-Commonwealth country such as the United States, Panama, Mexico or Spain.

However, a Jamaican-born person may enter Parliament if he or she has allegiance to Nigeria, Zimbabwe or Australia.

Leave a Reply