Constitutional Discussions 15: Convicts Disqualified to be Candidates. Section 37 of the Anguilla Constitution provides a limited disqualification for convicts to run in political elections. You are only disqualified if you are under a sentence of imprisonment for a period exceeding twelve months. The disqualification ends once you are released. This is the situation in the
There was much discussion and debate between members of the public and members of the Commission. One view found favour with a majority of Anguillians. It was adopted by the Commission. That was that if you are convicted of an offence of immorality or dishonesty you should be disqualified for life. If you are convicted of any other offence, you should not be disqualified once you get out of prison. A few persons took the view that this concern about immorality and dishonesty was anti-democratic. If Anguillians want to elect a convict, they should not be deprived of their right to do so. Some pointed out that we know politicians who have been dishonest and immoral, though never charged or convicted, but we still elect them. For them, it is hypocritical to put such a disqualification in the Constitution. We should leave it to the good sense of the electorate to know who will best represent their interests.
A majority of Anguillians took a different view. This was that no one who had been convicted of an offence involving immorality or dishonesty should be permitted to taint the House of Assembly with his presence. That was the recommendation of the Commission at paragraphs 89 and 90 of its Report. Members of the House of Assembly meeting in caucus at the Limestone Bay Café disagreed with the recommendations of the Commission. They would prefer to keep the disqualification as it presently is.
What is your view?