The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations is currently facilitating a review of the various constitutional amendment bills with a view to raising awareness and understanding of the bills. This is the first in a series of articles, based on the collective review.
Name of State Amendment Bill
- Background to the Name of State Bill:Carriacou and Petite Martinique belong to that chain of islands known as the Grenadines, with distinctive characteristics and culture, located between Grenada and St. Vincent. Carriacou, Petite Martinique and the islands south are part of the State of Grenada while those north of Petite Martinique are part of the State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For sometime now, persons in Carriacou and Petite Martinique have spoken of feelings of exclusion and advocated that Carriacou and Petite Martinique be included in the official name of the state.
- Objective of the Name of State Bill:The objective of the Bill is to change the name of state from Grenada to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. It also proposes to correct the spelling of Petit Martinique by replacing Petit with Petite.
- Reason for the Proposed Change: The change in the name of state is being proposed to address feelings of exclusion and promote “embracement, inclusion and identity1”.
- Specific Amendments/Changes Proposed by the Bill:The Bill proposes the following amendments:
- Replace Grenada with Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique: Throughout the constitution or in any of the associated constitutional instruments, wherever the name of state appears as Grenada, it is to be replaced by Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
- Alteration of Section 111 of the Constitution: Section 111 is the Interpretation Clause of the Constitution. There are two changes to this Interpretation Clause:-
- Definition: The following definition is inserted:- Grenada means Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
- Description of the Territory: A second insertion describes the territory of the State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. “(1A) The territory of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique shall comprise the islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and all other areas that were comprising Grenada on 7th February 1974 together with such areas as may be declared by Act of Parliament to form part of the territory of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
- Consequential Amendment to the Interpretation and General Provisions Act 153: There is also an amendment to Interpretation and General Provisions Act Chap. 153 which changes the definition of the State of Grenada:
- Current Definition: “Grenada”, “the island”, “the State”, includes Carriacou, Petit Martinique and the adjacent islands, and all territorial waters adjacent thereto;
- Proposed Amendment: “Grenada”, “the island”, “the State“, MEANS Grenada, Carriacou, Petit Martinique and the adjacent islands, and all territorial waters adjacent thereto;
- Amendment to Section 107 of the Constitution: Petit in Petit Martinique will be replaced with Petite.
- Red Flags/Concerns:
5.1 Public Islands:
The Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill describes the State of Grenada as follows: – “Grenada”, as the State, comprises three PUBLIC islands, which are, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”. While the Explanatory Memorandum will not constitute the body of the Act that will be passed, it provides context and clarity in respect of the interpretation of the Bill. Therefore the following queries/concerns arise:-
• Given that, some islands in the territorial waters are privately owned but all islands in the territorial waters are part of the State, why is the state of Grenada described as comprising of three PUBLIC islands?
• By describing Grenada the State as comprising three PUBLIC islands, what are the implications for the jurisdiction of the State in areas such as security and taxes re those privately owned islands within the territorial waters?
• Does this description of Grenada as comprising three PUBLIC islands provide legal loopholes that could contribute to the risk of losing public resources and loss of sovereign rights?
5.2 Inconsistency in the Definition of Grenada: The amendments will result in THREE definitions of Grenada:-
i. Grenada “the State” – new insertion in Section 111 ( reference 3. iii above)
ii. Grenada, the territory – new insertion in Section 111 (reference 3. iii above)
iii. and Grenada , the territory – the Interpretation and General Provisions Act, Chapter 153.
In the event of any legal challenges for whatever reason, WHICH definition will prevail?
- Constitution the Supreme Law:
- The Constitution is the Supreme Law and ALL law must be consistent with the Constitution.
- If there are any inconsistencies, then the Constitution will prevail.
- It should also be noted that if any clarifications are required, one has to REVERT to the Explanatory Memorandum which inserted the definitions in the Constitution.
- Current Context:
- Executive and Policy: Constitutional Amendments should not be seen in isolation of the current political, social and economic context. The Constitution confers on the Executive the authority to make policy. Currently, the Executive is implementing policy to support citizenship by investment.
- Name of State Bill and Foreign Direct Investment Policy Measures: It is recommended that the terminology of the Name of State Amendment Bill be carefully analyzed in the context of various policy measures being implemented to attract foreign direct investment, particularly the following:- the Investment Act; the Citizenship by Investment Act; the Free Trade and Free Zone Act; the Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan
- Privately Owned Islands by Mega Rich Investors: Within the context of measures to woo the mega-rich and the increasing privatization of the ownership of Grenada’s offshore islands, is the Name of State Bill, wittingly or unwittingly, creating legal loopholes for those may wish to operate “enclaves” and principalities akin to Macau or Monaco, and who may, at some time, for whatever reason, therefore take it into their heads to challenge Grenada’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over these islands?
- Other Queries:
- Power of Parliament: While the Bill seems to give the power to Parliament to only add to the territory of Grenada, does it conversely permit Parliament to declare an area not to be part of the territory and state of Grenada?
- Changes to Original Bill and the 90-day Period: There are two insertions to the Interpretation Clause, Section 111. Should these be considered substantial and requiring another 90-day period after being tabled in the House?
- Consequences of the Name of State Amendment Bill:
- Beyond Embracement, Inclusion and Identity: The Grouping of CSOs is in no way opposed to the inclusion of Carriacou and Petite Martinique as part of the name of state. However, the consequences of the Name of State Amendment Bill goes way beyond the stated purpose of changing the name of state to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique for the reasons of “embracement, inclusion and identity”.
- A Threat to the Sovereignty and Integrity of the Territory: The inconsistency in the terminology proposed in the Bill re the definition of the State of Grenada and the territory of Grenada – in the Explanatory Memorandum, in the interpretation clause of Constitution and in the Interpretation and General Provisions Act, Chap. 153 – provides loopholes for legal challenges which could compromise the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the State in areas such as security and taxes and loss public resources in its territorial waters.
IAGDO/Grouping of CSOs
Review of Name of State Amendment Bill
20 July 2016
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