Residents are being urged to come out and participate in the ongoing public meetings which are being held by the Constitutional Review Commission.
Premier Dr. The Honourable Natalio Wheatley made the plea during the virtual launch for the public meetings on Friday, November 11.
He stressed on the importance of having the presence of residents at the meetings, stating their feedback is critical to the development of the new Virgin Islands Constitution.
He said, “I want to urge all persons to ensure that they are included in the conversation and ensure that their views are heard – and to participate in a respectful manner. If you do not make use of this opportunity, it may be a very long time before another one presents itself.”
“I know that the members of the Constitutional Review Commission and all our Constitutional actors are fully aware that if a constitution does not reflect what the people want, then that contradicts everything a Constitution is supposed to stand for and it makes a mockery of the process. This is why I believe it is safe to say that the Constitutional Review Commission aims to ensure that the new Constitution reflects the aspirations and the will of the Virgin Islands people – who are the persons, along with the future generations, who will be most directly impacted by the Constitution when it is written and put into effect,” he added.
For those who may be hesitant to present suggestions orally, Premier Wheatley recommended for such persons to submit their point of views in a written format.
“The Virgin Islands we want to create for the future and the future we want for our people depend on the Constitution we are about to create. But, for the Commission to know what is in the hearts and minds of Virgin Islanders, we all have to come forward and tell them – whether in open meetings or in written submissions,” he stated.
The premier also touched on the Terms of Reference for the Constitutional Review Commission, namely the issues on self-determination and powers associated with the governor.
He said, “Addressing the issue of political status requires us to assess, define and articulate our vision and aspirations as a people. The Constitution, by establishing and strengthening institutions, and defining, limiting and regulating the powers and roles of the political actors, designs and equips the institutions for political development and advancement. Therefore, our new Constitution will be the vehicle for taking us wherever we, as a collective society, decide we want to go – and when we wish to get there. We have to make sure it is fit for purpose.”
He continued, “The how, where and when is also dependent on the role the UK will play in our governance and the powers that will be reserved for the governor. Recommendations A2 (iii) and (iv) of the Sir Gary Hickinbottom Report also speak to these issues – and the House of Assembly have incorporated them into the Terms of Reference for the Constitutional Review Commission.”
The other scheduled meetings are as follow: