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Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - The deepening of democracy was cited as one of the fundamental reasons for a constitutional reform for Saint Lucia. Since its Independence from Britain in 1979 Saint Lucia has not had any major alterations to its constitution. A Constitutional Reform Commission-CRC, has been launched with the mandate in the main of refashioning the constitution so that there is greater harmonization with the island's changing and political circumstances. The CRC was launched on Friday November 18th, at the conference room of the National Insurance Scheme.

Government's intention to establish the CRC was announced by the island's Governor General Her Excellency Dame Pearlete Louisy back in March 2000, when she stated that the CRC's responsibility was to “encourage effective governance, ensure that the institutions of the State remain strong and responsive, and that the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all persons are respected.”

During Friday's event which was carried live via the National Television Network and Radio St. Lucia, Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony, a Lawyer and former lecturer of constitutional law, suggested that there was a “disconnect between democracy and the constitution which seeks to protect it.” according to Dr. Anthony, “The constitution quite apart from giving shape to structures and institutions, should connect with its people in a very fundamental way.”

The Prime Minister said there was no better timing to engage in constitutional reform adding that the alienation which regular Caribbean people feel about their constitutions should never be underestimated. “For most of our people the provision of our various constitutions are unknown and do not provoke the least bit of respect. Whereas they have given shape to our most fundamental institutions, and have promoted a quality of democracy that is admirable, Commonwealth Caribbean constitutions have never succeeded and this includes our own for what ever reason, of inspiring that basic sense of connectivity and identity which every nation's constitution should arguably inspire,” said Dr. Anthony.

But while the Prime Minister supports constitutional reform he believes that such an exercise should not be based on what seems fashionable but on a real need. He noted that discussions of constitutional reform may become an abstract exercise, if the agenda for reform is not placed in an appropriate context, otherwise he said, “ the process of reform will remain in the preserve of academics and professionals.”

Recounting major constitutional breakdown in 1982 in St. Lucia when measures had to be introduced to sustain a government to allow for a smooth transition and return to parliamentary normalcy. Dr. Anthony impressed upon the minds of the gathering the importance of engaging in constitutional reform at this times. “We cannot pretend that 10-15 years down the road we will not face another constitutional breakdown. for that reason we need to build and rely on the experiences that we have had and to bring 26 years of managing our fundamental law, ” he added.

Dr. Anthony says while the government has given its full support and resources to the Constitutional Reform Commission, it will also ensure that the Commission which is headed by retired High Court Judge Madam Suzie D'Auvergne works free of political influence. There are no members of Parliament on the CRC. Its members were nominated by civil society organizations. Meanwhile Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Dennery South Honourable Marcus Nicholas, in a brief address pledged his support to the constitutional reform process.

The Feature address at Friday's launch was delivered by Chairperson of the Constitutional Reform Committee of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Parnel Campbell, CVO,QC.

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