The Constitution Review Committee (CRC) is preparing to begin what it called a “serious” civic education campaign to inform and solicit views from Liberians about what they want in their constitution. This will also include its public consultations.
Results from a brief meeting held with selected civic educators and focal point persons at the end of the past week showed that they have to be in the field with fact sheets and copies of the 1986 Constitution. Copies of the Constitution are going to be distributed among people who can read so they can understand talking points and suggest to the CRC what they feel should be changed or maintained.
Civic education would have started January, but CRC Chairperson, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, said in a statement during the meeting the delay was due to unresolved problems beyond the scope of the CRC.
Now that those issues are partially resolved with the assurance that work can now begin, Cllr. Scott said Liberians should expect civic educators in their communities soon.
She explained the initial crafting of the Liberian Constitution did not involve the participations of all Liberians. With that in mind, the current leadership— wishing for inclusive governance— has opened the door for the public to participate.
She, therefore called on Liberians to accept the work of the CRC by showing willingness to listen to civic educators and to read the constitution so they can come up with their compiled views and suggestions on matters confronting them.
She told civic educators that their selections were on the basis of their experience working with people and therefore should consider the review of the constitution as everyone’s business and not necessarily for money.
“Take into account our lack of money and that the government cannot afford to fully cover this huge task, we must all show patriotism to our country by accepting any little amount given since it is our business and no one else’s,” she noted.
She said because wages attached to the work were not much, civic educators have to toil in their own districts to avoid transport fare that the CRC cannot afford to give out.
She cautioned CRC workers to do away with discrimination and consider every Liberian in the process; noting that whoever demonstrates willingness to receive copies of the constitution and tracts containing talking points should be given it regardless of background.
She also warned them against writing suggestions for people instead of allowing them to it on their own so the CRC maintains its balanced stance by working with the Liberian people and government.
“Whoever does not know how to write must ask a close neighbor or his/her child to write for them. Civic educators must avoid writing for people so the CRC can commence this process with transparency and a sense of fairness,” Cllr. Scott warned.
She gave them further warning not to forward suggestions on behalf of the public during the discussion, because the public should be given the chance to make their own suggestions. Cllr. Scott expressed fear that in such a case Liberians would not trust the CRC and deduce the civic education campaign is merely pretense, and that changes in the constitution are only being made to please the government.
Meanwhile, after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s re-election in 2012 she formed the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) with the mandate to: 1) arrange public discourse and debates on provisions of the Constitution; 2) consider national policies such as decentralization and local governance; 3) review the constitution and identify provisions that may be amended; 4)draft specific pieces of legislation pertaining to the constitution for approval and ensure adequate public participation; 5) assist in ensuring the conduct of a referendum by the National Elections Commission on proposals for amending the Constitution.
At the end of the review process, the CRC will present its findings to the President of Liberia who would then submit them to the National Legislature for review and debate on issues raised by Liberians.
There would also be a national conference to bring Liberians together and discuss and reach a consensus over which provisions should be amended or maintained.