People’s Constitution Commission Prepares Recommendations for Constitutional Changes

People’s Constitution Commission Prepares Recommendations for Constitutional Changes

The People’s Constitution Commission (PCC) is preparing to submit a list of recommended constitutional changes to the government. The commission has gathered and compiled varying opinions from 26 private and public sector organizations. The group, established in 2022, is expected to present the recommendations and findings from the consultation process for consideration at the national assembly soon. On Monday, Minister of Constitutional and Political Reform Henry Charles Usher stated the PCC has spent over 18 months listening to the concerns of various sectors of society and is in the process of fine-tuning the suggestions. 

Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “What is also contemplated in the legislation is that it goes for final approval from the people in the form of a referendum. So it will go from a set of proposals, a report, into a draft bill that will then go to a referendum, a national referendum and then once the people support it then of course it goes to the House for final approval in the House. And really we want to see what the commission will recommend. Will they recommend a rewriting of the entire constitution? And of course this comes out again from recommendations from the people. But rewrite the entire Constitution ? Just amend certain sections ? These are areas that we have to look at.”

Usher added that members of the PCC had their work cut out for them. He explained that the group went to great lengths to educate the public on the importance of the Constitution and the role it plays. 

Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “Where we are now is in the final phases of this process. Remember that there were three parts to this. One was actually setting up the Commission. That was the first phase and getting them aware of the Constitution because as we wanted to do we brought in different groups, different sectors to be a part of this commission but many of them were not familiar with the constitutional process. They might not even have been familiar with the constitution itself. So we had to have an education phase where we were educating the commissioners on the constitution. And that happened for a period of time. It then moved into what educating the population on the Constitution. So it spoke about the widespread educational process of the Constitution to the population, explaining to the Belizean people exactly what a Constitution is, what is in our Constitution, what may be found in other Constitutions, and how we could have a mixture of what we have now and what we can find outside. And then the third phase was what they’re just completing now is that phase of making sure that the recommendations coming from the citizenry, making sure that the recommendations coming from different sectors are put together, are collated, are put together in a package. And then the final phase, the fourth phase, is to submit those recommendations in the form of a proposal, in the form of a report, and then that is what the commission will be or should be doing at this time. They may need some more time to complete this process, but that is where we should be right now in the compilation of all of these recommendations and there were so many meetings and recordings and written submissions that they have to put all of this together, look at the sections where those might be affected because many people have said, “oh we want this. They didn’t say amend section so and so. We just said this is what we want.” So then the commission had to look to see where in the constitution this may have been affected.”

The PCC is headed by former Belmopan Mayor Anthony Chanona.

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