Constitutional Reform Commission members take oath of office; retired Chief Justice Carl Singh to serve as Chairman

Constitutional Reform Commission members take oath of office; retired Chief Justice Carl Singh to serve as Chairman

By Svetlana Marshall

With retired Chief Justice Carl Singh at its helm, the Constitutional Reform Commission was activated today with the swearing-in of its members.

Seventeen of the twenty Commissioners took the oath of office before President Irfaan Ali, who urged them to put their best efforts forward as they work to reshape, and more importantly strengthen the country’s Constitution. 

The President noted that the Constitution should serve as a timeless blueprint for governance, while reflecting enduring principles and values. However, the dynamic and evolving nature of the world necessitates periodic updates and reforms, the President noted.

The Constitution was last amended in August 2000.

As it prepares to undergo another reform process, the President urged that the Commission be comprehensive in its approach.

“The Constitution Reform Commission Act 2022 delineates some key areas which should be considered for potential reforms. These encompass fundamental rights of citizens, indigenous peoples’ rights, rights of children, the eradication of discrimination, enhancement of race relations, promotion of ethnic security and equal opportunity, safeguarding minority rights, electoral reforms, economic, political, and cultural rights, fiduciary responsibility, bolstering integrity in public office, as well as the functioning of the National Assembly and local government. As you will observe these areas are wide-ranging but not exhaustive of the scope of the work of the Commission,” the President said.

According to President Ali, the Constitution must remain a living document that would be able to respond to new and emerging challenges, including societal changes, while still upholding its core principles and protecting the rights of citizens.

“As an integral element of the social contract between citizens and the State, the Constitution is designed to embody the collective aspirations of the people while safeguarding their rights and promoting their empowerment. Consequently, the Constitution must be drafted in clear and accessible language, comprehensible to the average individual. This ensures that all citizens can understand their rights and obligations, thereby facilitating active participation in the democratic process and reinforcing the mutual understanding between the government and the governed,” President Ali said.

Justice Carl Singh was appointed Chairman of the Constitutional Reform Commission by President Ali, while the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall; the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira; Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony, the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai; and the Minister of Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy were appointed to represent the Government on the Commission. 

Meanwhile, the opposition-nominated commissioners are Vincent Alexander, Sherwood Lowe, Nigel Hughes, and Ganesh Mahipaul.  

The other commissioners include, Aslim Singh (Labour Movement), Derrick John (National Toshaos’ Council), Ramesh Persaud (Private Sector), Kim Kyte-Thomas (Women’s Organizations), Daniel Kanhai (Youth Organisations), Imran Ally (Muslim Organisations), Radha Krishna Sharma (Hindu Organisations), and Adrian Anamayah (the farmers’ representative). 

Kamal Ramkarran (Guyana Bar Association), Keoma Griffith (Christian Representative) and Timothy Jonas (Representative of the Joinder Parties) also form part of the Commission, however, they are expected to take their oath at a later date. 

Both Daniel Kanhai and Keoma Griffith currently serve as members of the President’s Youth Advisory Council.

Prime Minister Mark Phillips; Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings and the Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh were among the officials who witnessed the swearing in of the Constitutional Reform Commission. 

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