March 18, 2011
PM invites public to submit memo on Rep. People Act

Members of Civil Society, as well as individuals and members of the general public, are being invited to submit memoranda on the review of Representation of the People Act (RPA).{{more}}

This disclosure was made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonslaves earlier this week as he informed the public that the first meeting of the Select Committee established to review the Act was held on Tuesday, March 15.

The Prime Minister, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, March 16, indicated that copies of the RPA will be made available to all, in order for them to peruse and submit their recommendations, if they choose to.

Dr. Gonsalves indicated that he was the Chairman of the Select Committee chosen to review the Act, which was recommended by a number of individuals following its reading in Parliament earlier this year.

The other members are Ministers Saboto Caesar, Dr Douglas Slater, and Senator Elvis Charles, along with the Attorney General, who is present with her staff to advise the Select Committee.

Also present at the meeting were observers Parnell Campbell QC, Godfrey Samuel from the Christian Council, and Kay Bacchus Browne, President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association.

No member of the Opposition New Democratic Party was named to the Committee, since they were ejected from Parliament on March 3, the day the Committee was selected.

The Opposition would normally name three persons on the Committee.

The Prime Minister said that the observers (Campbell, Samuel and Browne) made recommendations to the Committee and that these recommendations, as well as others from Civil Society and the public, will be taken into consideration.

He also said that the entire Act will be reviewed by the committee, and that it will not be withdrawn.

He indicated that whatever comes out of the Select Committee will be known as the Representation of the People Amendment Bill.

The Prime Minister also gave justification from a ‘principled and practical’ point of view for his government’s move to amend the act in the first place, concluding that among other reasons, the Act as it stands would ‘make the country a laughing stock’.

He said that the discussions opposing the amendment were not discussing the sections of the law, but were giving the wrong impressions to what the sections say.

According to Gonsalves, the amendments could not protect a Parliamentarian in a current court case, since it did not act retrospectively. (JJ)