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Constitution Reform Commission Act (LAWS OF GUYANA – CAP. 1:14)

The Constitution Reform Commission Act was enacted by the Parliament of Guyana to

establish a Constitution Reform Commission and to provide for its membership and terms

of reference in accordance with the Caricom Agreement dated 17th January, 1998 and the

St. Lucia Statement dated 2nd July, 1998 and for other purposes connected therewith.


This Act may be cited as a Constitution Reform Commission Act 1999. In this Act -“Caricom” means the Caribbean Community established by the Treat of Chaguaramas 1973;


First Schedule “Caricom Agreement” means the Agreement in the

First Schedule entitled Caribbean Community

Mission to Guyana dated 17th January, 1998;


Second Schedule “St. Lucia Statement” means the statement in the

Second Schedule entitled the St. Lucia Statement

dated 2nd July, 1998.


Interpretation.

This Act shall be read and construed in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Caricom Agreement and the St. Lucia Statement that are inter-related and mutually reinforcing.


Establishment of the Constitution Reform Commission.

(1) There is hereby established a body to be known as the Constitution Reform Commission (in this Act referred to as “the Commission”) generally in accordance with paragraph 9 (i) of the Caricom Agreement.


  1. There shall be a Commission Secretariat, headed by the Secretary to the Commission, appointed by the Commission, responsible and reporting to the Commission.


  1. There shall be a budget for the Commission to enable the Commission to adequately discharge its functions.


Membership of the Commission.

The Commission shall consist of the following members -


(a) five members nominated by the People’s Progressive

Party/Civic;


(b) three members nominated by the People’s National Congress;


(c) one member nominated by the United Force;


(d) one member nominated by the Alliance for Guyana;


(e) a farmers’ representative;


(f) a private sector’s representative;


(g) an indigenous people’s representative;


(h) a women’s organisations’ representative;


(i) a youth organisations’ representative;


(j) a Guyana Bar Association’s representative;

(k) a Hindu religious organisations’ representative;


(l) a Muslim religious organisations’ representative;


(m) a Christian religious organisations’ representative;


(n) a Labour Movement’s representative.


Filing the vacancies.

(1) Where a member of the commission refuses or is no longer able to discharge his functions under this Act, or is removed in accordance with the provisions of subsections (2), another person may be appointed in his stead, after being nominated in like manner by the entity of which his predecessor was the representative.


(2) A member nominated by the entity as its representative on the Commission shall cease to be the member from the date that entity informs the Commission in writing that the member no longer represents the views of that entity.


Terms of reference and powers of the Commission.

(1) The Commission shall review the Constitution of Guyana, to provide for the current and future rights, duties, liabilities and obligations, of the Guyanese people; and for that purpose shall receive, consider and evaluate submissions for the alternation of the Constitution, and report its recommendations to the Special Select Committee for transmission to the National Assembly.


(2) In conducting the review of the Constitution, the Commission shall in consonance with paragraphs 4 (iii) of the Caricom Agreement and 3 (d) of the St. Lucia Statement take into account the following:

(a) the full protection of the fundamental rights and freedom of all Guyanese under the law and the Caricom Charter of Civil Society;


(b) the rights of the indigenous people of Guyana;


(c) the rights of children;


(d) eliminating discrimination in all its forms;


(e) improving race relations and promoting ethnic

security and equal opportunity;


(f) measures to ensure that the views of minorities in

in the decision-making process and in the conduct of

Government are given due consideration;


(g) implementing reforms relating to elections and the

Elections Commission taking into consideration its

composition, the method of electing its chairman and

members and its jurisdiction over national

registration and the electoral process;


(h) measures to secure and protect economic, social and

cultural rights of all Guyanese;


(i) measures to maintain and strengthen the

independence of the judiciary;


(j) measures aimed at safeguarding public funds and at

maintaining and enhancing integrity in public life

under the law and by other proper means;


(k) the functioning of the National Assembly and any

measure which can enhance its capacity and

effectiveness as a deliberative body;


(l) the functioning of the local government system and

measures to improve its capacity and effectiveness;


(m) the representations which have been made to the

Special Select Committee on Constitutional Reform

established in accordance with the Resolution of the

National Assembly passed on December 1, 1994.

(3) The Commission shall consult, within the widest possible geographical area, with as many persons, groups, communities, organizations and institutions as possible including, but not restricted to, religious and cultural organizations, political parties, youth organizations, high schools and university students, women’s organizations, private sector organizations, professional bodies and the media.


(4) The Commission shall have the power to conduct any inquiry or investigation within its terms of reference ins such a manner and at such time and place as it thinks expedient with power to adjourn from time to time and place to place as it thinks fit.


(5) Upon the conclusion of its deliberations the Commission shall prepare a report, inclusive of the proposals of any minority, giving details of the recommendations and the reasons therefore in a clear and comprehensive manner to enable the Constitution to be drafted therefrom.


(6) The Report shall be presented to the National Assembly not later than July 17, 1999.


Privileges and immunities.

The privileges and immunities of the Commission and the members of the Commission shall be the same as those of the National Assembly, respectively.


Appointment of Communities by the Commission.

The Commission may appoint committees of the Commission comprising members of the Commission or non-members as the Commission may think fit and may assign to such Committees such functions relating to the terms of reference of the Commission as the Commission may determine.


Post-reform general election.

Pursuant to paragraph 4 (ii) of the Caricom Agreement the process for implementing the alternation of the Constitution as recommended by the Commission and approved by the National Assembly shall be conducted in sufficient time to allow for post-reform general election to be held within eighteen months after the presentation of the Report of the Commission to the National Assembly.


Due constitution of the Commission.

(1) The Commission shall fully constituted when all of its members referred to in section 4 are appointed by the President and have complied with subsection (2).


(2) Each member of the Commission shall, before entering upon his duties under this Act, take and subscribe before the President the oath I the Form set out I the Schedule to the Constitution or make and subscribe an affirmation.


Chairman, Vice-Chairman.

(1) When the Commission first meets, and before it proceeds to dispatch any other business, it shall elect one of its members to be the Chairman and another to be the Vice-Chairman.


(2) The Vice-Chairman shall preside over the Commission whenever the Chairman is absent.


(3) Every member of the Commission including the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman shall have one vote; and there shall be no second or casting vote.


Procedure.

(1) Thirteen member of the Commission shall constitute a

quorum.


(2) Only members of the Commission shall have the right to vote.


(3) A decision of the Commission shall be by consensus, unless a member asks that a vote be taken by secret ballot or show of hands; and a valid decision requires the support of twelve members of the Commission where all twenty members are present, and that of a simple majority plus two, where there is a quorum but the members present are less than twenty.


(4) All meetings and deliberations of the Commission shall be open to the public.


(5) Subject to the provisions of this Act the Commission shall regulate its own procedure and may make rules therefore.


Methodology, time frames and budget.

(1) The Commission shall within the first month from its first meeting –


(a) publicise its methodology, and time – frames for

accomplishing the stages of the task assigned to it;

and


(b) prepare and present a budget to meet adequately its

needs in the discharge of its functions.


Experts.

The Commission may engage the services of experts to assist in its work, and to advise it at any of its meetings or deliberations.


Special Select Committee of the National Assembly.

The Special Select Committee established by resolution of the National Assembly to determine the terms of reference and composition of the Commission shall remain constituted. And shall, on behalf of the National Assembly, be responsible to facilitate the due and efficient functioning of the Commission and shall have authority to receive the Report of the omission for transmission to the National Assembly.


 

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