15 July, 2007


Constitutional Discussions 4: Discrimination. One of the fundamental human rights dealt with in the 1982 Constitution of Anguilla is protection from discrimination. Section 13 enshrines the right. It does not cover every kind of discrimination. It applies to discrimination on the grounds of race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex. We will all remember the pride of the National Council of Women when they got the prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of sex included in the Constitution for the first time in the 1990 revision. That was the amendment which made it illegal to pay a woman in Anguilla less than a man for doing the same job. Before that, there were several ways in which the law in Anguilla discriminated against women.

There are exceptions to the right to be protected from discrimination. The Constitution mentions three. The first is numbered (4)(a). It permits us to pass a law discriminating against non-belongers. That is what makes it legal for us to prohibit non-belongers from owning land in Anguilla without a licence. If we did not have this exception, it might be illegal to pass a law discriminating against non-Anguillians who want to purchase property in Anguilla. The second exception is numbered (4)(b). It relates to what is called the “personal law”. This means matters such as adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death, or other like matters. I cannot think of a good example at the moment. But, this is the exception that would permit us to make a law prohibiting a Christian from adopting a Muslim, or a white family from adopting a black child. We do not do any of this. I am only making up examples of what could be permitted. The third exception is numbered (4)(c). It allows us to discriminate in taxation. That is what makes it legal for us to tax a non-belonger differently from an Anguillian. Without this exception, the Aliens Landholding Licence tax might be challenged as being discriminatory.

The Members of the House of Assembly suggested a fourth exception to be numbered (4)(d). It would add the words, “for the provision of services in favour of Anguillians”. They wanted to make it legal to pass a law discriminating in favour of Anguillians in the provision of services. The problem they were discussing is what is to happen in the future, for example, if Indian contract labour parents begin to demand schools for their children. If we refused might we face the risk of discriminating in the provision of educational services on the basis of race, place of origin, or colour? What if our hospital is inundated by immigrant labour coming with medical problems? Can we make a rule that only Anguillans can get subsidised treatment, and all others must pay the full economic cost. Without this exception, it might be discriminatory for medical services to be provided at one rate for Anguillians and another rate for non-Anguillians.

I do not have a problem with that amendment to the Commission’s recommendations. What about you?


  1. I agree with the fourth exception, but believe it should refer to Belongers, not Anguillians.

  2. As is explained elsewhere in the Report, paragraph 168, the Commission proposes replacing the term "Belonger" with "Anguillian".


  3. Kinds of "Anguillian-ness"

    As someone who is apparently :-) going to move there now that the ALHL is approved -- but who has no intention of renouncing his US citizenship -- I'm curious what are the different government-defined categories of people who live on Anguilla?

    I know about belongers and non-belongers, and how non-belongers can become belongers under special circumstances, marrying an Anguillian, and/or living there for some period of time, and then applying for the status.

    Do belongers vote? Do born-Anguillians vote even if they live off-island? Does the voting franchise extend through multiple off-island generations? Is belonger status revocable? There must be some kind of actual Anguillian citizenship where the franchise resides. Is Anguillian citizenship the same as British Citizenship?

    Is there a web-page with all this in it somewhere so I stop pestering you guys with these dumb questions? :-).

  4. I fully understand and am sympathetic to the desire of Anguillians not to be swallowed up or displaced by non-belongers. However, two issues come to my mind:

    1. I think it would be inhumane to discriminate against non-belongers in the PROVISION of health care. What if a non-belonger goes to the hospital with symptoms of having had a stroke or heart attack? Would this person have to wait while an Anguillian who needed stitches for a small cut on the knee goes first? If so, that could mean the difference between life and death (or lifelong incapacity) for the non-belonger. Would medical triage principles override citizenship? Under what circumstances? Would this be "in writing" somewhere, or would it be at the discretion of the medical person in the Emergency Room at the time?

    2. Also, if the term "Anguillian" replaces "Belonger," would individuals not of Anguillian parentage, but who are accepted by the Government as Belongers, ever have a way to earn full status and not be subjected to discrimination? If "Belonger" is replaced by "Anguillian," Belongers will never truly belong.

    Thanks for the opportunity to ask for clarification.


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