As the country is faced with one of the most important tasks to rewrite and modernize its constitution, we note with great concern that one key group that is not sitting on the commission is the Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRC).
In fact, following several queries about the status of the HRC in this important process, the President of the Human Rights Commission in Belize, Leo Bradley Jr., contacted The Reporter to say that the commission will be discussing the matter next week at a board meeting. While Bradley would not go into further details of what that discussion will center around, he said that until after that process is completed then, he will be able to make a statement on the matter.
The Reporter also reached out to the Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform, Henry Charles Usher, who confirmed via a WhatsApp message that the HRC was, in fact, not one of the bodies that are sitting on the Commission. Usher, however, reiterated that, like the previous Reform Commission of 1999, where the HRC was not listed as a member, it nonetheless ended up playing a major role in the process. The minister opined that this current process will be similar.
“I think too much focus has been put on who is around the table. Remember, this is the People’s Constitution Commission. The views of the Belizean people are paramount, and the Commission’s mandate is to consult and incorporate those views,” Usher commented to the Reporter.
He added that while the HRC does not have a seat on the commission, “everyone and every group will have an opportunity to present their views.”
Presently, the People’s Constitution Commission Bill shows that the commission has 21 members seated at the table. This list includes political groups, the business community, representatives from non-governmental organizations, the various unions, the village councils, the various ethnic groups, the legal community, the churches, the education sector, the health sector, the media, and the LGBTQI+ community.
The commission will have a period of 18 months to conduct a comprehensive look at the Constitution, engage in national consultation, report back, and make recommendations to the Ministry of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform.