by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Tues. July 26, 2022 The Belize Peace Movement is calling on the Government of Belize to stop and educate its citizens on the Constitution before moving ahead with the task of constitutional reform. In a press release sent out on Monday, the organization suggested that the government should ensure that its “constitutional inform horse” can confidently pull its “constitutional reform cart”.
“Belize’s first constitution of 1981 had little or no input from the people and was rushed through within months leading up to our independence in 1981. After 41 years, it is estimated that less than 2% of Belizeans have ever read their citizenship bible,” said the BPM.
The Belize Peace Movement is hoping that, rather than implementing the People’s Constitutional Commission Bill, 2022, the government launches a two-year educational campaign that includes introducing a mandatory school subject on the Constitution; distributing a hard copy of the Constitution to each household in the country; producing a program on informing about the constitution to be run on local television and radio; and hosting monthly public forums across the country.
Anything short of adequately informing the public before the constitutional reform process, said the organization, would be futile and “a waste of taxpayer’s dollars.”
“This is the singular most important opportunity we have to break this cycle of ignorance and thus ensure that our children and future generations will not be subjected to the same abuse, exploitation and corruption we have experienced since Independence,” concluded the press release.
The Government of Belize, through a process of constitutional reform, is seeking to “decolonize” the nation 41 years after independence. The government has previously expressed that it hopes to achieve this through the “most consultative manner possible.”
So far, the first step towards reform—the establishment of a People’s Constitutional Commission— has been met with much controversy due to numerous groups and organizations being excluded from the Commission. The launch date for the Commission is set for August 1st, which is also when the country will be celebrating Emancipation Day.