Symposium on constitutional reform process set for Friday at UG

The Carter Center Guyana will host a symposium on Guyana’s constitutional reform process on March 31 at the University of Guyana Turkeyen Campus from 6 pm.

According to a press release, the symposium themed ‘Perspectives on Guyana’s Constitutional Reform Process,’ which is open to the public, is being made possible through the generous support of the UK High Commission in Guyana.

Lecturer in Health Behaviour, Ethics and Qualitative Research Methodology at UG, Dr Paloma Mohamed; Vincent Alexander, Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission; former Speaker of the House and Chair of the Constitution Reform Process (1999-2000), Ralph Ramkarran; Peace-building and Governance Practitioner, Lawrence Lachmansingh; attorney, founding member and past president of Transparency International Guyana, Gino Persaud; International Constitution Reform Experts: Dr Jacqueline Hanoman and Geoffrey Weichselbaum; and author of Constitution-Making and Reform, Michele Brandt will sit on the panel. The event will be moderated by Severin Wilson, Head of the Carter Center’s constitutional reform project, the release said.

The symposium will be held in the Education Lecture Theatre and will be simultaneously telecast at the UG Berbice campus and live-streamed via the university’s Facebook page. http://www. ustream.tv/channel/EjymL5r9NdB).

The release noted that access to the venue will close at 6 pm, and all attendees should be seated by that time.  The symposium is set to conclude at 9 pm.

This symposium comes amid myriad calls by civil society for government to advance the constitutional reform process.

Constitutional reform had been one of the manifesto priorities of the APNU+AFC government during its elections campaign. Months after it entered power, government set up a Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR) in August, 2015. Persaud was on this committee, along with fellow attorneys Nigel Hughes and Geeta Chandan-Edmond, as well as Professor Harold Lutchman and the late Haslyn Parris. The remit of the committee was to give direction and scope within which the constitutional reform process should take place. The SCCR submitted a report to the government on April 30, 2016.

However, there has been no word

from the government as regards its

deliberations on that report. Instead, last month, a team of constitutional experts from the United Nations system arrived here to conduct a constitutional reform needs assessment mission.

According to a release from the Prime Minister’s office, the Terms of Reference (ToR) concluded between the Government of Guyana, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (UNDPA) were to:

(i) assess the political environment in Guyana and the legal and institutional framework governing the constitutional reform process; (ii) review past reform processes; (iii) evaluate the interest, capacity and roles of the various civil and political stakeholders in engaging in the constitutional reform process; and (iv) assess the potential role of UNDP-UNDPA in assisting this process and resources required.

The Guyana Human Rights Association, while welcoming the UN systems experts, said it was discouraged by government’s seeming ambivalence to constitutional reform and expressed the hope that domestic interest in the issue would be revitalized.

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