01 September, 2007

Anguillian Status

Constitutional Discussions 23: Great-grandchildren of Anguillians. The question who is to be considered an Anguillian was the subject of much debate and disagreement during the 2006 public consultations of the Anguilla Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission. The Commission eventually came up with a compromise recommendation that is contained at paragraph 174 of its August 2006 Report. I am not going to repeat it for you. It is long and complicated. It needs to be read in full to get its entire meaning. The members of the House of Assembly meeting in caucus at the Limestone Bay Café to consider the recommendations were generally in support of the changes recommended. There was just one small disagreement. It had to do with the great-grandchildren of Anguillians.

The Commission had recommended that children and grandchildren of Anguillians should automatically be Anguillians. It is not so now. Grandchildren of Anguillians are not legally Anguillian belongers. The Commission went further than grandchildren. They found that Anguillians in the main wanted their great-grandchildren to be included in the category of Anguillians. There was only one condition. It should not be automatic. The grant of Anguillian status to great-grandchildren should be tied to a proven connection with Anguilla. It would depend on proof of continuous residence in Anguilla for a period of five years prior to the application for a grant of a certificate of Anguillian status. This residence qualification would ensure that the many thousands of descendents of Anguillians who have long ago given up any connection with the island will not automatically be entitled. It is only those who reside on the island who would be so entitled.

Members of the House of Assembly were reluctant to go with this recommendation. They preferred the minority view. They would not include great-grandchildren, no matter how long they had lived on the island.

Quite what they were concerned about is still not clear to me!


  1. According to newspaper reports there are now three other very knowledgeable and expreience lawyers among the constitutional delegates. What are their views on an issue such as this? Have you discussed it with them. Perhaps the chairman of the commission does not agree with the saying that two heads are better than one.

    As the saying goes - in the land of the blind, the one eye man is king.

    I would like to hear a debate for and against the proposal and many other proposed changes to the constitution.

    As usual someone is trying to lead us blindly into constititional changes, the consequences of which can only be guessed at.

    Stop being a unicorn(I and me).

  2. The poster of the above comment has been out of touch with Anguilla for a long time. I say that for the following reasons.

    One, the views of the Constitutional Commission as published in its August 2006 Report are not my views. I did not personally agree with them initially. I went along with them out of solidarity. What the Report contains by way of recommendations, I am satisfied, represent the majority view of those Anguillians resident on the island and off the island who contributed to the exercise. The Constitutional Commission Report reflects six months of determined effort to find out what Anguillians wanted for their new Constitution. This work was based on the work done over the previous three years by the David Carty Committee. There were public and private meetings. There was draft after draft of the Commission’s conclusions published on paper and on the web. These were widely circulated and discussed. There were public meetings up and down the country. These were repeated two and three times in each district. By the end of the exercise, there was not a serious person interested in Anguillian constitutional advancement who could in all honesty say that the views of the Anguillians had not been thoroughly canvassed and debated.

    Two, the other lawyers who the Chief Minister recruited for his team to discuss with the British are persons who are politically opposed to him and his programmes. Some of them have run on the political platforms opposed to him. They are not persons in whose independence of thought and motive the Chief Minister can rely. He should subject any contribution of ideas they are likely to make for the ulterior motives that they may bear. He should not be in such a hurry to say yes to every person who makes any proposal to him.

    Three, partly in support of the last point, but valid on its own, is the widely known fact that each one of the other lawyers on the negotiation team refused the Chief Minister’s and the Commission’s invitation to get involved in the work of the Commission. They went on the radio and in print urging Anguillians to boycott the constitutional reform exercise. They never attended a single meeting. They never made a positive contribution on any of the many radio discussion programmes. Their sole contribution was to decry the effort to seek out the peoples’ views. The Chief Minister wisely recruited them into his negotiation team, because they are acknowledged constitutional experts. But, he should have been prepared both by planning and by instinct to deal with any delaying tactics that they may have brought to the table. It is a matter of regret that he was not sufficiently willing or prepared to deal with them.

    Except for a slogan or two, the lawyers on the Negotiation Team came up with not one idea of substance to add to the Commission’s Report. The only new thing was “full internal self-government”. It was not even new. Everyone who has read the Report has commented that from its contents what Anguillians obviously wanted was complete internal self government. The Commission chose, for obvious strategic reasons, not to use that clichĂ© anywhere in its Report. Other than a call to tell the British that what Anguillians want is “full internal self-government”, the Negotiating Team came up with no idea of substance that was different to the Commission’s report. There was no reason why they should. The Commission had already sifted out all the multiplicity of ideas in public, and had recommended all the proposals that Anguillians wanted. I still do not understand what reason the Chief Minister had for calling off the discussions with the British. It was obvious to most observers and commentators that the Report already represented the aspirations of the people. Any other aspirations that the “new” team will come up with must be subject to the same intensive public scrutiny that the original Report was subject to. It will be a complete waste of time to try to do this through a “referendum”. What is needed is consultation that is much deeper and wider and more consultative than such an inadequate exercise. My fear is that special interest groups will now hijack the reform movement, and that the Chief Minister will fall victim to their schemes. I hope that I am mistaken.

    But, since everyone in Anguilla already knows these points, I have to assume that the person who posted the above comment is completely ignorant of what has gone on in Anguilla over the past six years of discussions on constitutional reform. Either that, or is writing tongue-in-cheek just to provoke a response such as this!


  3. The United Front became alarmed after all the other islands who had elections under a new COnstitution lost terribly to the opposition. They were happy not to see At Large voting or any of the other recommendations going into the 2010 elections.

    I think the Concerned Citizens group made a hughe mistake by encouraging this delaying tactic of the UF. All along they were lookign for a way out to stop the constitution advancement.

    I doubt if any of the new political parties will ever get elected under this district, family, voting system. BVI Opposition scroed huge in their elections. Montseratte under their new system also did well.

  4. Hear here, the lawyers on the team are noted and of notable repute. They are noted for their ability to discern the lay of the legal landscape and apply this keen sight on their CLIENT's behalf..

    The prior poster noted that they have not been blogging or disseminating their views at or in, any public forum, as you have so chosen to.

    As responsible citizens entitled to political participation they are behooved to add their voices to the charting of AXA's destiny in any legally defined forum.
    If the available forums are not to their liking or tainted in their view, they ought to exercise that good judgement, they have been endowed with, and refrain from vesting the said forums with the stamp of approval that would come with their presence and participation.

    The CM in his wisdom chose to include these legal luminaries in the Constitutional Consultative team, granting acknowledegement of their ditinguished ability and expertise.

    These skills were sought after for the improvement of AXA, in full knowledge of the hinted differences of political stances,an attestment to the value of the skills.

    It appears in your dissertation, there are no ulterior motives to be espoused by each and every other member of the team. The question to ask oneself :- which member 's motive is aligned with AXA's best interest in the long term.
    The prior poster suggests the holding of a debate on the matter, also requesting a public airing of their views and possibly the reasons or factors that have brought them to these views.
    Any independence of thought on this matter brings us " from the sublime to the ridiculous"....
    The raison d'etre of a CONSTITUTION is to provide guidance to a people whilst enshrining their values and mores and cultural practices.Who will define OUR values? How can independence of thought exist under such a proviso...

  5. Please tag the pseudonym Caribbean Man on the recent post querying at the about independence of thought

  6. Under some of the very same persons we got the 1982 Constitution. Did we progress furtehr politically under that 1982 one? Or did the British became more entrenched. We should be wary of only following the one set of voices.

    If Eistein had listened to the experts we would not have gotten E = MC2

  7. In the matter of Belonger Status, I would like to suggest that there should be a clause whereby the belonger status can be revoked in situations where serious crimes have been committed.

    I feel that great grandchildren should be considered for Belonger Status. The foreign invester or the "economic rapist" shoule not obtain belonger status before person with blood ties.


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