pursues Constitutional Advancement
Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith launched a nine-member Constitutional Review
Commission at a press conference on 26 April at the Central Administration
Chairman of the
Commission is Mr. Gerard St. C. Farara, QC, while the other members are Messrs.
Edison O’Neal, Vance Lewis, Elihu Rhymer, Audley Maduro, Carvin Malone, Stuart
Donovan, Ms. Persia Stoutt and Mrs. Joanne Williams Roberts. The group
represents a wide cross-section of representatives from areas such as tourism,
construction, law, education, financial services, communications and business
and will serve for one year.
gathering, which included Government ministers, legislators, students and
journalists under the theme, “Constitutional Advancement – a Better BVI,” the
Chief Minister said the review process is hinged on the Territory’s political
“It should be a
source of tremendous pride to every BV Islander that for the first time in our
Territory’s history the process of constitutional review will be done within the
BVI by locals alone and not as a declaration of Her Majesty’s Government,” he
said. “Taken together, this review will touch on virtually every element of our
is tasked with conducting a review of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order
(1976) and ensuring the Territory’s continued advancement and good governance.
The process will address a wide range of issues and Government is encouraging
wide ranging discussions.
Some of the key
areas the Commission will focus on are examining the duties of the Attorney
General and how best to ensure Government’s need for a legal adviser are met;
addressing the sensitive, but critical issues of more clearly defining Belonger
status and how best to answer the concerns of all members of the community;
finding ways to protect the legitimate rights of the indigenous people of the
BVI; identifying structures to improve the efficiency and productivity of
Government; looking at the need for a human rights chapter in the Constitution;
reviewing the reserve powers of the Governor and considering a new mechanism for
maintaining appropriate checks and balances to ensure continued good governance,
and considering reform of the existing system relating to the functioning of the
A number of
students from the BVI High School, the Bregado Flax Educational Centre, the
Anegada High School and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College attended the
launching. Earlier in the day, they were the Chief Minister’s guests at a
“I want these
young people and all the young people of our Territory to pay close attention to
this process. I want them to be involved and active,” Dr. Smith said. Copies of
the Constitution are being made available at primary and secondary schools in
the BVI as well at the Central Administration Building.
every BV Islander to become familiar with our Constitution. To understand what
we are up against, you must read and know your Constitution. As my Government
continues to seek new ways to empower our people, I challenge every BV Islander
to empower yourselves with knowledge and read the Constitution,” urged the Chief
Dr. Smith said
it is the single most important event to take place in the Territory as well as
in the life of the present Administration and, consequently, should not be taken
remarks, the Commission Chairman told the gathering that Territory wide
consultations will be held, as the review exercise requires full participation
of members of the public.
stressed that the Constitution must be reflective of the level of development of
the Territory and the aspirations of the people, and appealed for “active,
informed and constructive” participation of the public to make the process
successful and meaningful.
The office of
the Commission will be housed upstairs of the old Travel Plan Building at Sir
Olva Gorges Plaza. The last time a Commission was established to undertake a
similar constitutional review was in 1993, resulting in amendments to the
Constitution in 2000.
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