The state-sponsored Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) of Dr. Francis Alexis has reacted to claims from certain quarters that many Grenadians are not properly educated on the matters surrounding constitution reform and the bills that will be voted into law on Referendum Day, which is October 27.
Committee member, attorney-at-law, Robert Branch told reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press conference that the members intend to intensify the education process to make sure everyone understands what is happening.
Branch said that what needs to be done now is to ensure that the information promoted is crystalised.
He was responding to a question posed by one journalist whether any consideration is being given into rescheduling the date to allow for more consultation on the bills.
“The issue about rescheduling the date, I don’t know about that. I want my life back because this has been going on for quite a long time and sometimes it’s disheartening that you get the impression from people that we haven’t been doing anything,” he said.
According to Branch, the challenge the committee faces is that there are a lot of bills to put forward in the Referendum – Name of State Bill, Rights and Freedom Bill, Election and Boundaries Commission, Caribbean Court of Justice and other related matters, Term of Office for the Prime Minister, Fixed Date for Election and Ensuring Leader of the Opposition.
“There is this issue that the committee has too many issues but the committee was pushed very hard on these particular issues. We didn’t necessarily want to have or intend to have seven bills but there were certain sections of the population that kept asking for more issues to be added and so we listened to those expressions and interest”, he said.
“Right now what has to happen is that the public education drive has to be ramped up … it has to increase to ensure that the messages are crystalised. We have to be careful in terms of what are the final bills. We only just had them recently because they had to go to the House of Representatives and to the Senate,” he added.
Branch gave assurances that there will be an increase presence by CRAC in the media to provide public education through Social Media and Public Service Announcements (PSA).
“We hope to launch a live radio programme this week. It will be produced by the Government Information Service (GIS). We hope to invite all other media to take part. So this will take place, we’re looking at every Thursday from this week until the referendum,” he said.
Additionally, he said there will be a specific programme to target the youth to ensure that they are involved in the Constitutional Reform process.
“We have the youth involvement in the democratic process. We’ve notice that in terms of persons attending the consultation, many involved has been the over 50 group. We intend to target the young people to become involved in this process.
“We’ve noticed that the young people are very much onboard with this process. They understand the issues when we discuss it with them in terms of benefits to participate – the right to education, the issue of gender equality, persons being arrested, having the right to be told at the time of arrest the rights to a lawyer and the details of their arrest etc.
Branch also made mention of plans to launch a particular youth project of community interest “where we would have youth community groups competing and engaging in a competition on constitution reform …they will be judged on how they implement that project”.
Branch said that all of these activities will be held as part of the lead up to the referendum to be held on October 27.