Barbados’ new Constitution could be ready by September.
Chairman of the Constitution Reform Commission, retired Justice Christopher Blackman believes the 10-member body should be able to complete the mammoth task of crafting the island’s revised Constitution within the 15-month timeline given by Government.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Justice Blackman said they had been given 15 months and he saw no reason for it not to be completed by then.
“I think so. I don’t see any real reason why it shouldn’t happen,” Justice Blackman responded when asked if he was optimistic the Constitution would be finished by the deadline.
The chairman said they had made “good headway” so far.
Last June, the Commission was sworn in during a ceremony at Government House.
It comprised of Blackman, Suleiman Bulbulia, Reverend Dr John Rogers, Senator Gregory Nicholls, former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, trade unionist Mary-Ann Redman, businessman Christopher de Caires, attorney-at-law Shadia Jemmott, president of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Kerryann Ifill and youth advocate Khaleel Kothdiwala.
At the time, Attorney General Dale Marshall said it would be given 18 months to reform the island’s ageing Constitution.
Justice Blackman revealed that to date, the Commission had received scores of “quality” submissions from a wide cross section of Barbadians that gave recommendations about what should be included in the Constitution.
“We have got over 60 submissions of some importance, some quality, including a very impressive paper from the Barbados Defence Force, who you will know was not part of the structure at Independence. They came into being in 1979, so they have to be provided for in the Constitution.
“We have had some senior people in the country offering some very useful ideas as to structure, in terms of the Auditor General and things of that kind. So overall the quality of papers we have got suggests that there is a lot of interest,” Justice Blackman said.
The chairman also disclosed that the Commission was scheduled to hold discussions with several organisations in the coming weeks.
He said on January 11, they would be meeting with the Democratic Labour Party and the following week talks would be held with the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP).
He said they will also meet with the Women and Development Unit at the University of the West Indies, Open Campus; the Barbados Bar Association and the LGBTQ community.
Justice Blackman noted that the Commission had reached out to the Rastafarian community, which had expressed its displeasure at not being afforded a seat on the 10-member body.
However, he said to date he had received no response from them.
“We have written to them and they have not come back to us. There are people who we have written to and they have not responded. For example, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) we wrote to and they told us in early December they would be getting back to us but they have not yet done so. We’ve heard from the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), we’ve heard from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) but we have not yet heard from the BWU,” Justice Blackman pointed out.
The chairman said they would be resuming the town hall meetings on a thematic basis in “late January, early February”.