As an independent civil society organization, the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum is putting in place strategies to incorporate issues relating to constitutional development processes through our ongoing civic education program.
The timeline set by the State from May to July to provide citizens with civic education prior to drafting the constitution is unprecedented and should be welcomed as a positive step. The legitimacy of the process is based on the inclusivity of all citizens and they must be empowered to openly participate and take ownership in drafting the constitution.
Based on CCF’s twenty year experience in providing civic education on Constitutional matters, we will continue with this role and conduct parallel and separate programs from what the State will conduct from tomorrow. By way of continuance of CCF’s existing aims and activities, it is extending its community education program to include and focus on matters pertaining to the new constitution.
Through our workshops in the four provinces of Ba, Tailevu, Naitasiri and Ra, there is a clear indication of an increased anticipation by members of the public to get involved in the development of the constitution and more questions are now arising on how and where, they as individuals and as members of a community, can make submissions and have their voices heard.
CCF, which conducts workshops on the three principal areas of Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism, is now devising strategies to incorporate information on the timeline set out for the constitutional development process to be able to adequately inform members of the public of the need for them to participate and contribute constructively in the drafting of the Constitution.
Any submissions which may be made following our workshops will be directed to the five member Constitutional Commission to be led by Professor Yash Ghai.
As highlighted by the experts, CCF cannotstress enough that civic education aims to prepare the public to participate both before and after the constitution is prepared and adopted and those involved must remain aware of this that the work will not end once the constitution is finalized.
From lessons of the past, where many citizens’ were not given the opportunity to make any contribution in the making of Fiji’s past constitutions, CCF hopes to play its part in encouraging mass participation.
CCF is currently engaged in intensive internal discussions on what we, as an independent civil society organization, would like to see in the final constitution and this will form the foundations for CCF’s submission to the Constitution Commission during the submission period from July to September 2012 and we encourage all citizens to start doing the same.