26 August, 2010
During the three days that I was in
Montserrat, I met with one youth group, two service clubs, the Rastafarian organization, one church group, and various individuals, including a number of the island’s barristers and solicitors. I also took part in a television interview, a radio call-in programme, and interviews by various members of the press. I am especially grateful to Jean Kelsick Esq, barrister and solicitor of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, for some of his observations on weaknesses in the draft Constitution, some of which I have been happy to adopt.
Montserrat is one of the few
still receiving financial support from the British Government. The receipt of grant-in-aid, I was told by several Montserratians, makes it difficult for them to believe that their views on the draft constitution will be welcomed. Many believe that the draft Constitution is being offered to them on a “take it or leave” basis. This unfortunate, and wrong, view of theirs is reinforced by recent actions of the local Government. British Overseas Territories
Government has made a concerted effort to rush the draft Constitution through the Legislature without any public consultation. Only reluctantly did the government suspend its efforts to have an approving resolution passed. The public has been given three months to ‘consult’. The resulting consultation process has been deeply flawed. It would appear that no effort is being made to gather any input from the people of
Montserrat regarding the draft Constitution.
The government has established a Constitution Implementation and Advice Committee whose main function appears to be to sell the draft to the public, rather than to get suggestions for improvement of the draft. This is no way to secure the approval and support of the majority of the people to the proposed new Constitution.