Barbadians attending the ‘Barbados Comes to Atlanta’ (BCTA) Memorial weekend events, got an opportunity to share their views with members of the Barbados Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC).
Barbados’ Consul General to Miami, Rudy Grant, in his welcome address at the Town Hall meeting, held this morning at the Clayton County International Park in Atlanta, Georgia, told the audience that this session provided them with the opportunity to say what they wanted to see in the new Constitution, and indicate how it would be shaped.
He stressed consultations such as these were “extremely important,” and persons at home and abroad should seize the opportunity “to contribute to this very important document which will inform how the country will function”.
Members of the CRC participating in the final overseas Town Hall meeting were: Chairman and retired Justice Christopher Blackman; Deputy Chairman Senator Gregory Nicholls; Commissioners Senator The Reverend Canon Dr. John Rogers; Attorney-at-Law Sade Jemmott; as well as Secretary and University of the West Indies lecturer, Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles.
In his introductory remarks, the Chairman stated that part of the CRC’s mandate was to consult both locally and abroad with persons, about what provisions they would like included in the Constitution “for the development of Barbados”.
He told those attending: “As a Commission, we are here to listen, [and] hear what you want to say to us. I think I should tell you all that every proposal may not be appropriate for inclusion in the Constitution…. However, I will also say, if you say something to us that we think has significance, that may require some alteration to the other substantive laws of the country. We commit to making that recommendation for consideration by the powers that be.”
The main discussion centred around Barbadian citizens living abroad having the right to participate in the electoral process. While most attendees seemed in favour, Father Richard Winston proposed that persons who have registered businesses employing residents could be considered as a category of persons eligible to vote.
However, Shamar Callender, a 23-year-old Barbadian citizen by descent said: “I don’t necessarily think that they should be allowed the right to vote in the Barbados General Elections because, as stated, they do not necessarily have to live with the consequences of [the] results of the election on a day-to-day basis.”
Both Ms. Callender and Donna Hope proposed having a Diaspora Representative be part of a Council that submits the views, ideas and concerns of persons living overseas to the Government of Barbados.
Rosalind Sealy, in her contribution, suggested that the President of Barbados and Senators should be elected and not chosen by the Government. She further stated that election times should be regulated and not called “willy nilly”; and leaders should have term limits and not be allowed to serve “as long as they wanted”.
Other topics raised included laws regarding the rights of children, parents and one’s sexuality; checks and balances of Government operations; the size of the Cabinet; imposing consequences for those elected; public sector reform; more involvement of the ordinary citizen in crafting policies; and a suggestion that the relationship between labour and the private and public sectors should be rooted in the Constitution.
Deputy Chairman, Senator Gregory Nicholls informed the attendees that they could visit the CRC’s website https://www.crcbarbados.com/ and that they could submit any further suggestions via email to [email protected].
Previous to the meeting in Atlanta, the CRC visited the United Kingdom in March; and New York, Boston, and Toronto in May 2023. (BGIS)