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The Constitution of Barbados is the supreme law under which Barbados is governed. The Constitution provides a legal establishment of the structure and various roles of administration of the Queen of Barbados (often referred to as The Crown, and represented by the Governor-General), the Government of Barbados, as well as legal rights and responsibilities of the public and various other government officers. The Constitution which came into force in 1966 was amended in: 1974, 1978, 1990, 1992, 1995, 2002 and 2003. The 1966 document succeeds several other documents concerning administration of Barbados. One of them, the Barbados Charter, is discussed in the present Constitution's Preamble. Prior statutes were created for the administration of Barbados as a colony. As a former English and later British colony, the Constitution is similar to those of other Commonwealth realms, yet distinctly different in the spirit of the Statute of Westminster.
In 1625 the English landed at Barbados and carved the term 'For King James of E. and this island' on a tree, then some personal items were left behind, and the ship's crew returned to England to notify The Crown and to seek initial settlers. In 1627 the initial settlers landed at Barbados and formed a colony based entirely on Common Law. As the population of Barbados grew a General Assembly was created and began to draft laws. After conflict in England erupted during English Civil War, large numbers of English settlers to Barbados, the General Assembly began the practice of creating a distinctly Barbados based administration.
As a constituent province of the West Indies Federation, Barbados became independent of the United Kingdom on 30 November 1966 under the Barbados Independence Act 1966. Under the West Indies Act 1962, the Monarchy of the United Kingdom was allowed to form governments for the former colonies of the West Indies Federation. Elizabeth II issued the Barbados Order in Council 1966 which formally gave force and effect to the present constitution.
The Constitution may be amended by Act of Parliament. Amendments to entrenched clauses require the support of 2/3 of all the members of each House.
- Barbados Independence Act 1966 (Cap. 37).
- Constitutional law 1966/Nov/17 - Includes the Barbados Independence Order, 1966 which establishes the judiciary, judicial procedures and parliament. The Constitution is included in the Schedule to the Order.
- Chapter 1 stipulates that the Constitution is the supreme law
- Chapter 2 Citizenship
- Chapter 3 Protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual
- Chapter 4 The Governor-General
- Chapter 5 Parliament
- Chapter 6 Executive powers
- Chapter 7 The judicature
- Chapter 8 The public service
- Chapter 9 Finance
- Chapter 10 Miscellaneous and interpretation
- Barbados Independence Order 1966 (No. 1455). - 1966/Nov/22 (Date of entry into force: 1966-11-30)
- Barbados Constitution (First Amendment) Act (L.R.O. 1978). - Amends a large number of sections in the Constitution including: sections 3, 6, 7, 13, 22, 27, 37, 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 79, 81, 82, 84, 89, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 104, 105, 106, 112, 113, 117. In addition, the following new sections are inserted into the Constitution: 79A, 89A, 93A and 93B and 1OOA.
- Barbados Constitution (Second Amendment) Act, 1990. - Amendments relating primarily to the office of Judges.
- Barbados Constitution (Third Amendment) Act, 1992.
- Barbados Constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act, 1995 (No. 2 of 1995) - Inserts a new section 112A on remuneration of public officers and soldiers which provides that the salaries and allowances payable to the holders of offices established under the Civil Establishment Act and the Defence Act shall not be altered to their disadvantage.
- Barbados Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Act, 2002 (No. 14). - Amends Sections 15, 23 and 78 of Constitution. Establishes that imposition of mandatory sentence of death or execution thereof shall not be inconsistent with Section 15 of Constitution. Also provides for transfer between Barbados and other countries of persons detained in prisons, hospitals or other institutions by virtue of orders made in the course of the exercise by courts or tribunals of their jurisdiction.
- Barbados Constitution (Sixth Amendment) Act, 2003 (2003–10). - Amends Constitution of Barbados. Inter alia provides for establishment, composition and jurisdiction of Caribbean Court of Justice.
Parts of the Constitution
The Constitution of Barbados consists of the following 14 parts:
- CHAPTER I- The Constitution
- This Constitution is the supreme law of Barbados and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
- CHAPTER II- Citizenship
- Persons who become citizens on 30 November 1966
- Person entitled to be registered as citizens
- Persons born in Barbados after 29 November 1966
- Persons born outside Barbados after 29 November 1966
- Marriage to citizen of Barbados
- Renunciation of citizenship
- Commonwealth citizens
- Powers of Parliament
- CHAPTER III- Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual
- Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual
- Protection of right to life
- Protection of right to personal liberty
- Protection of freedom of expression
- Protection of freedom of assembly and association
- Protection of freedom of movement
- Protection from discrimination on grounds of race, etc.
- Enforcement of protective provisions
- Time of emergency
- Saving of existing law
- CHAPTER IV- The Governor General
- Establishment of office of Governor General
- Acting Governor General
- Deputy to Governor General
- Personal staff of Governor - General
- Exercise of Governor - General's functions
- Oaths to be taken by Governor General
- CHAPTER V- Parliament
- Establishment of Parliament
- Qualifications for membership of Senate
- Disqualifications for membership of Senate
- Tenure of seats of Senators
- President and Deputy President of Senate
- House of Assembly
- Electoral law
- Qualifications for membership of the Assembly
- Disqualifications for membership of the Assembly
- Tenure of seats of members of Assembly
- Determination of questions of membership of Senate and Assembly
- Filling of Casual Vacancies in Senate and Assembly
- Power to make laws
- Alteration of this Constitution
- Regulation or procedure in Parliament
- Presiding in Senate
- Quorum of Senate
- Voting in Senate
- Introduction of Bills, etc.
- Restriction on powers of Senate as to Money Bills
- Restrictions on powers of Senate as to Bills other than Money Bills
- Provisions relating to section 54, 55 and 56
- Assent to Bills
- Oath of allegiance
- Session of Parliament
- Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliament
- General Election and Appointment of Senators
- CHAPTER VI- Executive Powers
- Executive authority of Barbados
- Appointment of Ministers
- Tenure of office of Ministers
- Performance of Prime Minister's functions in certain events
- Temporary Ministers
- Oaths to be taken by Ministers
- Presiding in Cabinet
- Governor General to be informed concerning matters of government
- Assignment of responsibilities to Ministers
- Parliamentary Secretaries
- Leader of the Opposition
- Certain vacancies in office of Leader of Opposition
- Privy Council
- Proceedings of Privy Council
- Prerogative of Mercy
- Establishment of office and functions of Director of Public Prosecutions
- CHAPTER VII- The Judicature
- Establishment of Supreme Court
- Appointment of Judges
- Acting Judges
- Oaths to be taken by Judges
- Tenure of office of Judges
- CHAPTER VIII- The Public Service
- Establishment and composition of Judicial and legal Service Commission
- Establishment and composition of Public Service Commission
- Establishment and composition of Police Service Commission
- Procedure of Commissions
- Appointment, etc., of judicial and legal officers
- Appointment, etc., of public officers
- Delegation of powers under section 94
- Appointment, etc., of members of the Police Force
- Delegation of powers under section 96
- Appeals to privy Council in disciplinary matters
- Appointment of permanent secretaries and certain other public officers
- Appointment, etc., of principal representatives abroad and subordinate staff
- Appointment, etc., of Director of Public Prosecutions
- Appointment, etc., of Auditor General
- Protection of pension rights
- Grant and withholding of pensions, etc.
- Removal from office of certain persons
- Protection of Commissions, etc., from legal proceedings
- CHAPTER IX- Finance
- Consolidated Fund
- Authorization of expenditure
- Meeting expenditure from consolidated Fund
- Public debt
- Remuneration of Governor General and certain other officers
- Establishment of office and functions of Auditor General
- CHAPTER X- Miscellaneous and Interpretation
- Vacation of office on attaining a prescribed age
- FIRST SCHEDULE- Oath
- SECOND SCHEDULE- Provisions Relating to Certain Tribunals
- Constitution of Barbados, Chapter 1, Section 1.
- 1974 Amendment
- 2003 Amendment
- Constitutional amendments
- Supplement to Official Gazette, 1990-07-05, No. 17, pp. 1-5
- Source: Supplement to Official Gazette, No. 18, pp. 1-2
- Source: Official Gazette, Supplement, 1995-03-06, p. 2
- Source: Official Gazette, 2002-09-05, No. 74, pp. 1-3
- Source: Official Gazette, 2003-04-24, No. 34, pp. 1-8
- Constitution of 1966 with Reforms through 1999 from the Georgetown University Political Database of the Americas
- Constitution of Barbados 1966, World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO)
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