Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't tinker with fundamental rights; let your voices be heard: PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Saturday launched a national consultation on constitutional reform with a plea for citizens to "make your voice heard".
She also stated that while she expects "myriad" issues to surface in the consultations, including the idea of an executive president and a form of proportional representation, she advised that certain fundamental rights should remain untouched. 

These include the rights that are now enshrined in the constitution, which guarantee that no citizen would face discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex.

She outlined the fundamental human rights and freedoms:

  1. the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law
  2. the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law
  3. the right of the individual to respect for his private and family life
  4. the right of the individual to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions
  5. the right to join political parties and to express political views
  6. the right of a parent or guardian to provide a school of his own choice for the education of his child or ward
  7. freedom of movement
  8. freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance
  9. freedom of thought and expression
  10. freedom of association and assembly
  11. freedom of the press
The Prime Minister said the launch of the initiative presents a unique opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the supreme law of the land, adding that she hopes it would yield "fruitful and meaningful discussions" from citizens. "While our present Constitution has undergone some amendment over the years...we must continue to develop our own system of responsible Government," she said. 

"As a diverse and plural society, we require a Constitution that more fully and accurately reflects our past and present experiences.
We also need a strong legal framework that will provide for the future needs of this Nation," Persad-Bissessar added.

She said the start of the consultation is the fulfillment of a campaign promise of creating a participatory democracy. "We believe that the Constitution should reflect the collective will of the citizens of this country," she said, adding that change must come from the people. 

"We therefore are not adopting a “top-down” approach. Instead, through the consultation process, the views and expression of the people will be considered and will then become the basis upon which a draft document is prepared."

The 2010 manifesto excerpt is reproduced below:
Click on graphic to read details in new, larger window
Persad-Bissessar said the start of the consultation process is also the fulfillment of a promise to: 
  • develop mechanisms for a referendum process
  • Limit the Prime Minister to two successive terms of government
  • Develop rules to govern the conduct of the government and political parties during an election period

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai