The Constitutional Review Commission submitted a report to the governor and the premier last week as part of efforts to reform the current Constitution. (Photo: GIS)

The Constitutional Review Commission has completed and submitted its final report, which will soon go to Cabinet and then be tabled in the House of Assembly for debate, according to Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.

“The document will then be available for public review, which will inform the next steps, including the establishment of a negotiating team,” Dr. Wheatley said in a Friday press release.

The report — which was provided to Dr. Wheatley and Governor John Rankin on Nov. 27 — fulfills part of a Commission of Inquiry recommendation for a comprehensive review of the territory’s Constitution as part of efforts to ensure good governance and the development of the Virgin Islands’ political institutions.

“I am grateful to the [chairwoman] and members of the Constitutional Review Commission, who worked diligently to complete and present a report that is representative of extensive public and private consultation, thoughtful and engaging deliberation, and meaningful research and consideration,” Dr. Wheatley said.

The CRC was charged with various tasks, including assessing the vision of the people; evaluating the current Constitution and identifying any gaps in it; recommending reforms; reviewing the next steps towards self-determination; and considering the best place for law enforcement and justice agencies within the constitutional framework, the premier explained.

Prior to the submission of the report, he added, four of the 16 commissioners resigned: Janice Stoutt, Ronnie Skelton, Coy Levons and Bernadine Louis.

Dr. Wheatley did not explain why they stepped down.


A similar review concluded in 2006 and resulted in the 2007 Constitution that is still in place today. But COI Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom wrote in his 2022 report that the document “cannot take the weight it has to bear.”

Accordingly, he recommended a constitutional review that he said must be “focused, open, inclusive and expedited.”

Though appointments to the CRC were made in December 2021 following years of promises by successive administrations, there was little progress up until the publication of the COI report on April 29, 2022 — the day after the Miami arrest of then-Premier Andrew Fahie on cocaine-smuggling conspiracy charges.

After that, Cabinet rescinded the previous appointments in June 2022 and established the new 16-member CRC, which soon launched a
website with meeting schedules and documents about the previous constitutional review.

Since then, the CRC has conducted public and private meetings, radio and television interviews, and outreach in schools across the territory. In September, the premier announced that the commission was granted a six-month extension beyond its original June deadline to review more than 460 comment submissions.