Constitution Reform Commission report to be re-opened

The House of Assembly will re-open the Constitution Reform Commission Report for public discussion with the objective of arriving at consensus on recommendations for the reform of the constitution.

Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy said in her throne speech on Tuesday that her government has listened to the voices of the people and wants to see that this issue is dealt with quickly.

“Saint Lucia’s post – independence constitution has served us well. This document was however drawn up within a particular context and an existing set of circumstances at the time. Our country, the world and the environment in which we live have changed dramatically since, and my government believes that it is appropriate, and indeed urgent, that we review this constitution,” she said.

The country’s head of state reminded everyone that millions of dollars were spent on a Constitution Reform Commission which undertook what she describes as excellent work, and produced a report containing several major recommendations.

“This report was debated in these chambers but there was no clear indication of what the next steps would be, if any. The general public is left with the impression that this Report has been discarded,” she recalled, giving her assurance that the matter will not be placed on the back burner.

The House had authorized the establishment of a Commission in 2004, to examine Saint Lucia’s constitution and report, in writing, recommendations and opinions for possible reforms.

The constitutional review was a joint effort by both the then Saint Lucia Labour Party government and the then opposition United Workers Party.

The 300-plus page report included over 100 recommendations.

The report recommended that the right to universal education up to secondary level should be included in the bill of rights in the Constitution but should be subject to available resources; that the fundamental right to health along the lines expressed in article (25) 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be included in the Constitution; and that there should be the creation of a mixed model of government with a different executive branch, to that which currently prevails.

Under that new system, the recommendations propose that the only member of the executive branch who will belong to both the legislature and the executive will be the prime minister.

The deputy prime minister will serve as a member of Cabinet without ministerial authority except when deputizing for the prime minister. To this end, he/she will be appointed on the basis of his ability to command the support of a majority of elected members of Parliament and he/she will appoint ministers.

If a minister is selected from Parliament, he/she must subsequently resign as a member of Parliament, to take up the post of minister.

The report of the Constitutional Reform Commission was tabled in Parliament in 2013.

St. Lucia News