BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 18, 2022
The first reading of an act to establish the People’s Constitutional Commission (PCC) was tabled during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday. The bill, which Minister of Constitutional Reform, Hon. Henry Charles Usher said has gone through a long gestation period, will forward a process of decolonization in the nation of Belize through the drafting of a new Constitution, 41 years after independence.
“Madam Speaker, 41 years after our independence, it is high time that we as a nation own our independence, and we need to continue this decolonization project. So, I’m very proud to stand here today to introduce this bill,” Minister Henry Charles said.
He noted that the last time an undertaking of this sort was carried out, the commission carrying out the process did not have legislative backing. This new commission, Usher said, will not only have full backing but also be independent, since they will be spearheading the process of bringing various stakeholders together to create the new Constitution.
“It was felt, Madam Speaker, originally, that we should have gone through the three readings today, but after further reflections, the Cabinet, myself, those involved in the process felt that this is of such national importance, that it is important that we just do the first reading and allow the people of Belize to have an opportunity to digest and make comments on this particular piece of legislation,” Minister Usher said.
After noting that the Constitutional Reform Commission in 1999 had not received legislative backing when an attempt was made to carry out such a process at that time, Minister Usher pointed out that the current administration’s move to put in place the necessary legislation to guide the process shows that they are committed to seeing the process carried out, “in the most consultative manner possible”.
“One of the key areas for decolonization is the Constitution of Belize. This is a very important and complex undertaking, and it requires a lot of study, discussion, and action that will make the general citizenry aware and capable of informed participation. There must be a process for creating a new People’s Constitution, and this commission, Madam Speaker, will be in charge of that process,” Hon. Usher said.
He further stated that the bill consists of 5 parts, with 25 sections covering everything from the establishment of the commission to the enshrinement of its independence from interference.
“Section 7, in particular, speaks about the independence of the commission. I’m very happy that we have included in this legislation the independence of this People’s Constitutional Commission,” Hon. Usher said.
The recently established Good Governance Unit, headed by Cesar Ross, will act as the secretariat of the People’s Constitutional Commission. The members of that unit were present at the House meeting on Friday.
A letter has been sent to the Leader of the Opposition to request that he forward the names of the two persons that the UDP has selected to sit on that committee as well as two alternate members.