BARBADIANS have assured that suggestions regarding the new constitution are welcomed, and the Commission intends to meet with all interested groups to get their feedback.
That’s according to the Chairman of the Constitutional Reform Commission, Retired Justice Christopher Blackman. Delivering remarks during the official launch of the Commission yesterday morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, he made it clear that the “Commission warmly welcomes any constructive suggestions to strengthen and advance” the work they are doing. He noted that shortly, they will be providing the Commission’s email address and physical location details, so anyone who wants to share their ideas with the Secretariat can do so.
“Significant institutions such as the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister, the judiciary, the media, trade unions, business organisations, the religious community and the Rastafari community, political parties, professional and charitable organisations, and other NGOs will be afforded an opportunity to meet privately with the
Commission. A similar courtesy will be afforded any group that requests such a meeting,” he stated.
His comments came as he spoke of the role of the Commission, which he noted, includes developing a draft Constitution for Barbados, which will best serve 21st century Barbados and would promote peace, order and good governance of the country. In that respect, he said the Commission is mandated to have the broadest possible consultation with all Barbadians, including those in the diaspora. Justice Blackman further indicated that it is expected that the Commission will prepare and submit its written report within 18 months from the date of its appointment.
With that in mind, he revealed that the Commission’s work is being facilitated with a working draft document prepared by Retired Justice Sherman Moore as the legal draftsman to the Commission. He said that Justice Moore, who was Chief Parliamentary Counsel before his judicial appointment in 1997, will be a valuable asset to the Commission.
He also stated that the Commission will be examining other Constitutions in the region, such as Guyana and Belize, as well as other Commonwealth countries like The Bahamas, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Malta, and the broader parliamen- tary republican system to help it in carrying out its mandate.
“…The task which we are about to embark on, is the most consequential in our long history. Fashioning a new consti- tution for the 21st century and beyond should fill us both with excitement and trepidation. We may only have one chance to get it right. Generations to come would judge us on how ad- equately we rose to the occasion. And I use the word we advisedly, because this is not a task entrusted only to the few. All Bajans, shoulder that responsibility, all of us have a responsibility to ensure we get it right as far as possible,” he said.
Justice Blackman made the point while noting that a constitution reflects the hopes and dreams of a na- tion, depicts who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be and therefore, he maintained that “it calls for bold and inno- vative thinking” balanced with “sober and cautious reflection”.
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