Draft of New Constitution Creates Second-Class Status of “Belonger”. At present, all Anguillians are called “belongers” of
As a belonger one has rights. You come to and go from the island without hindrance from the Immigration Department. You can freely acquire interests in land. You can vote. You can stand as a political candidate for election to the House of Assembly. None of these rights are held by “aliens”.
During the past twenty years
There is a process under the Anguilla Constitution for becoming a belonger. It is set out at section 80 of the 1982 Constitution. A “natural born” belonger, so to say, is one born in Anguilla of Anguillian parents. There are other ways of becoming a belonger. One can marry a belonger. Alternatively, one might qualify by living in
During the 2006 Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission hearings there was much discussion on whether or not there should in future be two classes of citizens. Some persons wanted “real” Anguillians to have a special status. The new Anguillians, those who came here lately, could continue to be called “belongers’. In future, they should never have the same status as “real Anguillians”. Only real Anguillians, ie, those with an ancestral connection to the island should in future be called “Anguillians”. This notion of different classes of Anguillian was soundly rejected by the majority of persons making representations to the Commission. There was widespread agreement that the practice of naturalizing foreign persons and automatically qualifying them to belonger status was wrong. The people of
The Commission recommended that in future the process of naturalization should be disconnected from the process of becoming a belonger. Anyone who wants to become a British Overseas Territories Citizen can go ahead and get naturalized. That will give one British rights, but no automatic rights in
The new draft Constitution up on the government website brings more confusion to the picture. It revives the status of belonger and adds the new status of Anguillian. Only an Anguillian can be Deputy Governor. Only an Anguillian can run in general elections. The bottom line is that this new draft constitution does exactly what a majority of Anguillians have already rejected. And it does it without the slightest prior consultation with the people.
Section 45(2) says who is an Anguillian. Who is a belonger is dealt with elsewhere. As if to emphasise the importance of the distinction, the draughtsperson has chosen to provide for the status of belonger in two different sections. Sections 20(5) and 105 contain conflicting definitions of who is a belonger. There are some similarities, but there are differences between the two definitions. There is no hint that these are alternatives open for discussion. They are put forward as separate and distinct definitions.
Check it for yourself.
How in the world did a competent draughtsperson make such an elementary mistake.