Members of the Constitution Reform Commission – (front row, left to right) – President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Kerryann Ifill; President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union , Mary-Anne Redman; Chairman and retired Justice Christopher Blackman; Attorney-at-Law, Sade Jemmott and UWI lecturer, Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles; (back row, left to right) – Muslim Chaplin at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Suleiman Bulbulia; Senator Reverend Dr. John Rogers; student advocate, Khaleel Kothdiwala; fFormer Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite; Senator Gregory Nicholls; and businessman, Chris deCaires. (T. Barker/BGIS)

The Constitutional Reform Commission has had its first formal working session.

Immediately after today’s official launch, the Commission held a meeting to elect a Deputy Chairman, and to put in place a number of administrative arrangements to enable it to be fully operational.

During the official launch ceremony, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Justice (Retd) Christopher Blackman, said that while it was the first formal working session, a lot had been happening behind the scenes for some time.

Mr. Blackman described the Commission’s task as “one of the most consequential” in the country’s long history.  “Fashioning a new constitution for the 21st century and beyond should fill us with both excitement and trepidation. We may have only one chance to get it right. Generations to come will judge us on how adequately we rose to the occasion. I say ‘we’ advisedly because this is not a task entrusted only to the few. All Bajans shoulder that responsibility.

“A Constitution reflects the hopes and dreams of a nation.  It tells the rest of the world who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be. It calls for bold and innovative thinking at the same time as sober and cautious reflection,” he told the gathering.

The Chairman said the Commission welcomes any constructive suggestions to strengthen and advance the exercise by way of engagement and the processes to be used.  He disclosed that in the near future, details would be given as to where comments and suggestions might be e-mailed or delivered.

“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, including the Rastafarian community, political parties, professional and charitable organisations and other NGOs will be afforded an opportunity to meet privately with the Commission.  A similar courtesy would be afforded to any group that requests such a meeting.

“The Commission will pursue consultations with the Commissions on Parliamentary Reform and that on Local Governance to determine the impact and implications of the work of those Commissions on the matters we are required to consider,” Mr. Blackman shared.

He said their work is being facilitated with a working draft document prepared by Sherman Moore, a retired Justice of Appeal, as legal draftsman to the Commission.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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