Monday, May 07, 2007

Final Constitution Draft Received by the BVI Government

Last week it was announced by BVI Chief Minister Honourable Dr Orlando Smith that after long period of Constitutional talks and negotiations with the British Government, the final draft of a new Constitution is ready.

The new provisions included in the final draft of the Constitution are: a new cabinet form of government instead of Executive Council; appointment of Premier Minister instead of the Chief Minister; establishing of a House of Assembly instead of the Legislative Council; the separated duties of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions. Other chapters of the Constitution provide for the legislature to remain in the governance of citizens of the BVI.

The modernized Constitution will be implemented following the next dissolution of the Legislative Council, - except for some provisions concerning the change from Executive Council to a Cabinet system of Government, change of Chief Minister's title, and the appointment of a Cabinet Secretary. They will come into effect after the general elections.

The BVI government currently undertakes the public education programme aimed at informing the public on the new Constitution. After these public meetings the people's constitution will be debated in the Legislative Council, and then sent to the Privy Council for final approval.

Dr. Orlando Smith has been the head of the BVI Constitutional Negotiating Team during all the period of negotiations which were successfully concluded in March. The BVI team that participated in the negotiations was formed of members of the Legislative Council and representatives of the Constitutional Review Commission. Also, the Commission published a Report after extensive discussions with the people of the BVI, which formed the basis upon which the Constitutional talks were conducted together with the UK team.

"This new constitution is a symbol of empowerment since for the first time in our history we now have a human rights or fundamental rights chapter," the Chief Minister said, "While I urge that every citizen should make themselves familiar with the full Constitution, now in circulation, I hope that you will get a feel for what has been achieved and is expected to govern the affairs of the British Virgin Islands in the foreseeable future."

By words of Dr. Orlando Smith, the new Constitution will finally provide a sustainable framework in which the basic rights of the people of the BVI shall be protected and preserved.

No comments: