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Friday, Dec 09, 2022

Existing constitutional structure insufficient at tackling abuses

Existing constitutional structure insufficient at tackling abuses

Governor John Rankin has surmised that the BVI‘s current constitutional framework is insufficient at addressing the corruption allegedly found within government.
Speaking recently on the status of a proposed constitutional review as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report, Governor Rankin said talks were in their early stages.

But the Governor said he remains committed to working with others in taking forward the much-needed constitutional review.

“The current constitutional structure has not had sufficiently strong checks and balances in it to prevent the abuses that have taken place,” Governor Rankin said in a recent interview.

The COI report found that almost everywhere, the principles of good governance and even the rule of law are ignored.
Governor Rankin said a structure is therefore needed for the constitution which prevents a recurrence of what has happened.

According to the Governor, this would mean having an Auditor General who is not blocked in their work, having an internal audit department that is not blocked in its work, and having ministers accepting that they must not act with unfettered discretion.

“[It would mean] ministers recognising that they, too, like everybody else, must operate within the law and within set parameters,” the Governor expressed.

Further to this, Governor Rankin said the BVI will continue to need independent courts, an independent Director of Public Prosecutions and a police service which he said should have operational independence in law enforcement.

“We’ve got to look at where the constitution has proved insufficient to tackle the bad governance which has occurred and have a modernised constitution which can help us to get on the right road,” he added.

In the meantime, the Governor said he supports the BVI‘s quest for self-governance, calling it a perfectly legitimate wish.

“The difficulty is that we have not been on the road to better self-governance, we’ve been on the road of bad governance and I believe that by carrying out these reforms we can actually get on the right road to where the aspirations of the people of the BVI want to take us,“ the Governor stated.

And while he noted that he could not commit to exact timelines regarding the proposed constitutional review, he expressed hope that the work would begin very soon.

“Constitutional review doesn’t happen overnight, but we’ve got to get the work underway and of course we’ve got to get public consultations underway. I think constitutional review will take at least a year, it may well take a bit longer than that. We’ve got to get going now,” he added.

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