Constitutional Commission Talks Donation Regulations

Among the ideas presented to the Constitutional Commission earlier this week, the creation of legal framework to regulate donations to the country’s political parties was most notable.

President of the Bahamas Law Students’ Association Barry Griffin told the commission it is now the “international norm” to regulate party finances due to “the influence of political parties and the donors that support those parties.”

He said: “The United Kingdom, a country that doesn’t event have a written constitution, does not leave control of this part of the political process to unwritten conventions, rather a detailed legal framework regulates it.

“It is my recommendation,” Mr Griffin said, “that the constitution provide: that donation to registered parties and their members but be regulated, that donations can only be accepted from permissible persons with subsidiary legislation to define permissible persons, and donations form anonymous sources should be banned.”

Mr Griffin also called for mandatory financial disclosure from members of Parliament, a term limit for the prime minister and fixed term limits for Parliament.

Marvin Coleby, President of the Black Law Students Association of Canada, also spoke, calling for a change to constitutional amendment procedures.

“Each step has to have a referendum and though a constitution by its intrinsic nature is supposed to be difficult to change, difficult to amend, I think that makes it too tedious and too costly to have to set a referendum to change even one word in the constitution,” he said.

“Maybe it would be reasonable to allow for the House of Assembly or Senate to amend the constitution rather than calling for a referendum each time.”