CRC recommends extension of fundamental rights
July 18, 1999
The Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC) has recommended the extension of the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution by the inclusion of some of the articles of Chapter II of the Constitution so as to make them justiciable. The articles of Chapter II at present are not justiciable.
All the fundamental rights were voted on unanimously.
In making its recommendations, the commission noted that since the framing of the fundamental rights section of the Constitution in 1980, the labours of human rights advocates in Guyana and across the world have led to the widening and deepening of the rights agenda.
The commission recommended that the fundamental rights section should provide for the protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, race, sex, religion, gender, ethnicity, marital status, physical and/or mental disability, political opinion, colour and age.
Also, it recommended that the fundamental rights section should provide for the protection of the rights of arrested and detained persons; the right to just administrative action; the right to protection of Indigenous culture and way of life, which should include language; the right of citizens to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
The commission also recommended that the equality of rights and status of children born out of wedlock; the inalienable rights of children, such as the right to life, equal treatment before the law, freedom of expression and protection from all forms of discrimination, as proposed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child these be included in the equality provisions.
In addition, the commission recommended that the provisions for women's equality contained in Article 29 should be retained, but be reformulated to ensure that the provisions enshrine women's rights to full and equal protection of, benefit from and treatment before, the law.
It also recommended that Article 142 which provides protection from deprivation of property should be amended to include the words "prompt and adequate compensation" in the appropriate clause; and an amendment to Article 145 which would include protection against vilification of one's religion.
Also recommended for amendments are Article 146 which provides for protection of the freedom of expression to exclude hate speech from such protection; and Article 147 which provides for protection of the right to assembly and association to include the right to demonstrate lawfully.
The commission also recommended that the section on fundamental rights in the Constitution should be set out in language which is easily comprehensible to all citizens as far as this is possible.
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