Constitutional Review Report Discussed

The Saint Lucia House of Assembly met on Tuesday August 18, 2015 to debate the report of the Constitutional Review Commission. The House authorized the establishment of the 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 government of Saint Lucia and the opposition.

“The composition of the commission reflects both representations by government and opposition,” Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony said on Tuesday. “Both political parties cooperated fully in establishing the commission and it is a point that is worth repeating because this was not a solo enterprise.”

The prime minister then went on to describe the report on constitutional reform as one of the most extensive in his experience, comparing it to what had transpired in some other Caribbean islands in recent times: “It is probably one of the most intensive consultations ever undertaken in Saint Lucia, even prior to, and after independence. I was a witness to the process that led to our Constitution in 1979, and that process does not match the intensity of this review.”

The 300-plus page report includes over 100 recommendations. Among them, the report recommends 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 also states that sexual intimacy in public should remain an offense and that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

It also calls for a political party and elections campaign finance act to be established, the retention of capital punishment and that the Caribbean Court of Justice should replace the Privy Council as the final appellate court.

The discussions in the House on the report will continue on Tuesday August 25.

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