Gov’t to establish Constitutional Reform Commission
In its bid to ensure constitutional reform, government moved to the National Assembly Monday with the Constitution Reform Commission Bill 2022, which seeks the establishment of a Constitution Reform Commission to review the country’s supreme laws.
The Bill was presented by Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira on behalf of Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall.
The explanatory memorandum states that the Act seeks the establishment of the Constitution Reform Commission which will consist of 20 members.
Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President and will include five members of the PPP/C, four members of the APNU+AFC, one member each from the ANUG, the Guyana Bar Association, the Labour Movement, the National Toshao’s Council, the private sector, representatives of women organisations, youth organisations, Christian, Hindu and Muslim organisations, as well as nominee representing farmers.
Details of the Bill state that the commission will review the constitution to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities, and obligations of the Guyanese people.
It is mandated for that purpose to receive, consider and evaluate submissions for the alteration of the constitution, and report its recommendations to the standing committee for transmission to the national assembly.
In conducting the review, the commission will consider the full protection of the fundamental rights of and freedom of Guyanese under law, the rights of indigenous people of Guyana, the rights of children, eliminating discrimination in all forms, improving ethnic relations while promoting ethnic security and equal opportunity.
The commission will also, among other things, implement reforms relating to elections and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), taking into consideration its composition, method of electing its chairman and members and its jurisdiction over national registration and electoral process.
Government’s model for constitutional reform is laid out in its 2020-2025 manifesto, and promotes the inclusion of all Guyanese in the review process.
“We are aware that issues concerning constitutional reform, particularly in relation to a national, inclusive governance model, management of elections, fiduciary accountability, enhancing rights of Guyanese and ensuring constitutional language is simple have been raised and discussed in the public domain. However, we believe that these, as well as other issues, must be part of a process of widespread consultation with the people of Guyana before being acted upon. The extensive changes to our Constitution under the PPP/C followed such a process,” government said in its party’s manifesto.
The manifesto said too that it is committed to continuous revision of the Constitution and will ensure that the Committee on Constitutional Reform which will advance the work, will pursue nationwide consultation following the model used in the past, with half of the members from civil society and equal representation from Government and the Opposition.”
The Constitution of Guyana is the highest governing document in Guyana. It came into effect on October 6, 1980, replacing the constitution enacted in 1966 upon its independence from the United Kingdom. Guyana’s Constitution was last amended on August 3, 2000. [Extracted and modified from DPI]