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Still pushing for an enchancement to our preamble

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30.APR.09

Editor: Indeed, constitutional reform is a serious process that must be undertaken with much genuine reflection, thoroughness and deep love for people and country. With this sincere love comes every desire and effort to strengthen the guaranteed protection of citizens’ God-given fundamental Rights and Freedoms. It is in this vein that I still push the recommendation of having a more enhanced preamble that clearly states the Origin of Our Rights.{{more}}

This is very important in especially warning those who are in authority and those who will assume high office, in making them understand that they are there to serve the people, not to violate their rights in anyway. They must not, in anyway, think that they are the ones who have given rights so that they can take them away at any time. Men, women and children throughout SVG ought to know that they have a God-given duty and responsibility to respect the rights of their fellowmen. We must bear in mind that in this constitutional reform, the more improvement we have, loopholes will be avoided and there will be a reduced possibility for misinterpretation. The following bold insertion is a significant proposal that I suggest:

“WHEREAS the peoples of the Islands of Saint Vincent, who are known as Vincentians-

a. Have affirmed that the Nation is founded on the belief in God- The Creator…

b. Desire that their society be so ordered as to express their recognition that all members of humanity are born free and are endowed with equal INALIENABLE and INVIOLABLE Rights by their Creator.”

(page 8, SVG Constitution and Constitutional Laws Booklet)

Some weeks ago, a radio call-in program on constitutional reform was held on Star FM “Star Issues”. A caller aired similar views ( recommendation) to the above-mentioned, emphasizing the need to include the words ‘Inalienable and Inviolable.’ Inalienable means “incapable of being transferred” and inviolable signifies “not be violated, infringed or profaned.” Mr. Noel Jackson and Lawyer Ronald Marks were the panelists hosted by Cerlian ‘Maff’ Russel. They all welcomed the suggestion, appearing to understand the weight of it, but it seems as though nothing has been done to reflect the acceptance of the suggestion in the draft constitution.

Additionally, interestingly and worthy of mention is the fact that two of the present drafters, Dr. Francis Alexis Q.C. and Dr. Hamid A. Ghandy are from Grenada and Trinidad, respectively. Why do I mention this? I have taken some time to peruse the preamble of different countries, including America, Cuba, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. Consider a portion of the

preamble of the two countries from which the aforementioned two expert drafters hail:

GRENADA

Whereas the people of GRENADA-

c. …believe that all men are endowed by the CREATOR with equal and INALIENABLE rights…(emphasis supplied)

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO-

Whereas the people of Trinidad and Tobago-

Have affirmed that the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago is found upon the principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in fundamental human rights and freedoms,…the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and INALIENABLE rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their CREATOR.

I ask the question: “If these principles are good for their (the two drafters mentioned) countries, why can’t they be good for us, too?” After all, reform or review is about making better, improving or enhancing what presently is. Our present preamble should be more specific in stating that man derives his rights from the Creator. Since it does not present the origin of Rights, this makes it limited in its view.

Again, I say that the recommendation is a significant one when we consider that the preamble sets the tone of the whole constitution. It is the rationale behind the document. The New Collegiate Dictionary describes a preamble as ‘an introductory statement, the introductory part of a constitution or statute that states the reasons for and intent of the law; an introductory fact or circumstance, especially one indicating what is to follow.’ As a citizen with a genuine interest in improvement, I continue to push for the enhancement of the preamble of SVG and I implore the drafters and all involved to consider and act accordingly.

Ann-Marie John
svgpatriot@hotmail.com

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