Work permit holders and other non-residents who are legally residing in the BVI are welcome to present their views to the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
Chairperson for the CRC, Lisa Penn-Lettsome said she respects residents who believe only Belongers and BVIslanders should participate as they will be most affected by the next constitution.
But she pointed out that everyone’s views will be considered once submissions are made.
“The review is not going to exclude anyone. We don’t want to lose contributions if they might be relevant. Relevance isn’t based on your immigration status, it’s based on your experiences, what you bring to the table and we don’t want to lose that,” Penn-Lettsome explained at the recent launch event for the BVI’s constitutional review.
While the CRC welcomes the views of non-residents, the leaders present at the launch event advised BVIslanders and Belongers not to take a back seat while everyone else participates in the process that will determine the BVI’s future.
In the meantime, Opposition Leader Julian Fraser indicated that he wanted locals to show greater interest in the review process.
“Who is this constitution for? If John Q public who has no connection to the Virgin Islands
can make contributions to the advancement of the constitution, then something is fundamentally not correct,” Fraser said.
The senior lawmaker said he remains concerned that some of the most vocal people who speak on various media platforms have no vested interest in the territory.
“Some of the most aggressive people are those who have no rights to access the information that they are publishing. And those people who have all the rights, are so reserved that they never come forward. We have to be careful with this,” Fraser highlighted.
He also said the Commissioners who have been appointed to lead the review of the BVI’s constitution shouldn’t be primarily responsible for getting the public interested in the process. Rather, Fraser said elected leaders are the ones who have a duty to get their constituents excited about the important event.
“We as leaders need to get out there and encourage our people to participate in this review, explain the importance and the benefits. As it now stands, the Commission is not going to accomplish that. It has to come from our class (elected leaders),” Fraser advised.