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The Islander Newspaper Ascension Island
  Issue No. 2222 Online Edition Wednesday 30 July 2014 
Home | July 2009 Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

Ascension : PRESS RELEASE: A NEW CONSTITUTION FOR ST HELENA, ASCENSION AND TRISTAN DA CUNHA
Submitted by The Islander (Public Relations Information Office) 16.07.2009 (Article Archived on 30.07.2009)

Foreign Office Minister, Chris Bryant, today welcomed the new St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009.

9 July 2009


 


PRESS RELEASE: A NEW CONSTITUTION FOR ST HELENA, ASCENSION AND TRISTAN DA CUNHA


 


Foreign Office Minister, Chris Bryant, today welcomed the new St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009.   


 


The Minister said:


 


“I welcome the new Constitution for St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  The UK has worked openly and constructively with the Councils on the three islands to ensure that the new Constitution will serve those islands well in the future.  And I am pleased to hear that there has been so much public discussion about the Constitution over a number of years. 


 


The previous Constitution came into operation in 1988 and reflects a very different world.  The new Constitution, on the other hand, is one fit for the start of the 21st Century.  For the first time it includes a bill of rights; it also introduces a number of important limits on the Governors power; and there will be separate chapters for the three islands allowing for far greater clarity about the respective roles of the institutions on the three islands.  It represents the kind of modern partnership that we seek with all of our Overseas Territories.


 


I believe this is good news for all those who live on St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and I look forward to working with them under these new arrangements.” 


 


 


Note for Editors:


 


1.         The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009 was made on 8 July by Her Majesty and the Privy Council.  It is expected to come into operation in the autumn. 


 


2.         The 1999 White Paper on the Overseas Territories (OTs) committed the UK to review constitutional frameworks for the territories to ensure consistency with the principles that underlie the modern partnerships between Britain and the OTs.  Intensive consultation on a new Constitution on St Helena began in 2003 and a number of rounds of negotiations and public consultations have taken place since then.  The Ascension and Tristan Councils wrote in support of the new Constitution at the end of June 2009; and the majority of the St Helena Legislative Councillors have expressed their support for it. 


 


3.         The new Constitution replaces a 1988 Order which no longer serves the needs of those living on the three islands well in the 21st century.  For example, it gives some very broad powers to the Governor and has no bill of rights.  It is also confusing in the way it sets out what provisions relate to St Helena, to Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.  The new Constitution makes changes in all of these respects, it recognises legal change that has gone on on the islands and elsewhere since, and reflects the reality of changes that have taken place in practice.  A bill of rights will mean that individuals wanting to make a complaint will now be able to do so in the local courts, and not have to go to Strasbourg.  The Constitution also establishes true independence for the judiciary and the public service and a new set of provisions on financial issues will ensure greater transparency, accountability, and independent audit. 

 

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