A consolidated and revised version of all the Laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica from 1990 to January 2017, has officially been handed over to the Government of Dominica.
At the handing over ceremony held last week at the State House, consultant and head of the law revision commission, Ray Harris stated that similar to any general law revision, the ultimate objective of the 2017 revised edition is to facilitate the administration of justice, the enforcement of law and order, and the management of the public and private sector.
“This project represents a 26-year revision of all the primary and subsidiary laws of the country,” he disclosed. “When the corpus of laws of a country has become untidy and inaccessible and not easily ascertained, not only to the average citizens but to the lawyers and judges on the bench because of many years of diverse amendments to the legislation, whenever that happens there is a need for a general revision of the laws of that country.”
Harris said the new laws came into effect on March 1, 2021.
Echoing Harris’ sentiments, Minister for National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmoore highlighted the ease that the revision now provided to the citizens to familiarize themselves with the law and becoming more informed of their rights and obligations, thus creating a more just and orderly society.
For his part, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit challenged the members of society to familiarize themselves with the law and to seek guidance from those who may have a greater understanding of the law to guide the country further.
“The problem we have in Dominica is too many people do not read the laws of Dominica; too many people do not know the provisions of the constitution and even those who are officers of the court, I ask myself which law school they went to because they don’t quote the law, they don’t quote the constitution they refer to something they hear on Facebook or hear on a talk show programme,” the Prime opined.
He called on the legal practitioners and law enforcement officers of the court to step up and understand their high responsibility is to guide the society objectively and professionally on matters of law and the constitution of our society.
“I believe this is really missing and I am hoping that with this exercise of the law revision and putting all of the various amendments of the various laws together, that it will make for ease of reading and ease of reference,” he stated.
The head of Government went on to stress the need for our constitution to also be updated and enhanced in light of all of the present-day issues that are confronting society.
“The constitution was passed in 1978 and though we’ve had many attempts in the past at revision of our constitution and I believe we need to elevate the maturity of the state of the citizens and for us to engage ourselves in constructive dialogue, constructive discussion on the issue of constitutional reform in our country, I believe it is important that we do so and we should press on with this,” Skerrit said.
In his brief remarks, Attorney General and Chairman of the Law Revision Commission, Levi Peter, tabbed the revision as “overdue” stressing that any country must ensure that its laws are regularly revised and kept up to date both for the practitioners, the legal justice system and the public who want to know what the law represents.
The project, which encountered several setbacks, was fully funded by the Government of Dominica.
The commission has commenced work to update Dominica’s laws up to January 2020.