04 August, 2007

Convict Candidates

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 UK. Politicians are always getting locked up for one reason or another. You might be arrested and prosecuted for what is really a political offence. You took part in a political demonstration. Someone was injured, or property was damaged. You might be convicted of malicious damage, or inciting a riot. Conviction does not mean that you are necessarily a bad person. The thinking on the limited disqualification is, you will have difficulty conducting a political campaign from prison. You cannot be nominated and run a campaign while you are in prison for a lengthy period. Once you are out, you should be free to resume political life.

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?


  1. I disturbing picture is presenting itself here - the elected representatives seem to be going against all of the sensible recommendations of the committee when it comes to representation in the house. It is time that we let our representatives know that we will decide who we want to represent us and in what manner, not them.

  2. Mobilising and agitating for the instituting of a readily accessible tool for GOA minister"s recall.

    Permit me to suggest :- a petition containing 2% of the population of Belongers registered at last official census,would trigger a referendum. This process would only permit for the removal of the member from his executive/ministry post.There would be no impact on his district/constituency determined representative role.
    The district/constituency could also have a similar code in place.

    Caribbean Man C.H.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.