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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, December 4, 2022
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A Draft of the Preamble of the Fifth Constitution of the Virgin Islands

As adopted for inclusion in the Fifth Constitution: Preamble, Anthems, Symbols, Bill of Rights and Human Rights. Articles I and II.
*These drafts are subject to further review by legal counsel.

PREAMBLE, ANTHEMS, SYMBOLS
BILL OF RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS

PREAMBLE

We, the people of the Virgin Islands, grateful to Almighty God for our creation, preservation, freedom, and Divine Guidance, mindful of our Virgin Islands heritage and uniqueness, assuming the responsibilities of self-government as an unincorporated territory of the United States, in order to promote more unity among our islands for ourselves and our posterity, promote the general welfare, protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, ensure political, social and economic justice, maintain a republican form of government, protect our culture and natural resources, and preserve the identity of the Virgin Islands.
Whereas we recognize the original indigenous peoples who inhabited these islands. We recognize the significant hardships endured by the enslaved Africans during the period of European colonial rule which precipitated the 1733 revolution on St. John, the successful 1848 Emancipation Insurrection, the 1878 Fireburn on Contract Day on St. Croix, and the 1892 Coal Workers’ Strike on St. Thomas.
Whereas the transfer of the former Danish West Indies to the United States of America through the Treaty of Cession of 1917, confirmed that the civil rights and political status of the inhabitants of the islands shall be determined by the United States Congress.
Whereas the adoption of the United States Nationality Act of 1940 identified the natives of the Virgin Islands of the United States who resided in the islands on January 17, 1917, and whose descendents are ancestral Virgin Islanders.
Whereas the enormous contributions to the socio-economic and political development of the Virgin Islands by those who migrated to the territory from countries of the wider Caribbean, who endured significant hardships as a result of prevailing U.S. immigration and labor laws, and who came to form an integral part of the Virgin Islands society; we especially recognize those who migrated from Puerto Rico, the French, Dutch, and the British West Indies whose contributions have been integral to the political, economic and social development of Virgin Islands society.
Whereas the applicability of the United Nations Charter confirms the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and the requirement for the development of full self-government; we affirm that the establishment of local constitutional self-government pursuant to this Constitution shall not preclude or prejudice the further exercise by the people of the Virgin Islands of the right of self-determination regarding the attainment of a permanent political status; now therefore, we do ordain and establish this Constitution.
ARTICLE I. BILL OF RIGHTS

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law or be denied the equal protection of the laws. No person shall be discriminated against on account of race, color, sex, gender, place of birth, socio-economic class or origin, political, religious belief, age or disabilities.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SPEECH, MEDIA, ASSEMBLY AND PETITION

Section 2. No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the media, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.
RIGHT OF PRIVACY

Section 3. The right of the people to privacy in the conduct of their personal affairs is recognized and shall not be infringed.
RIGHT TO KNOW

Section 4. A person may examine any public document or observe the deliberations of any agency of Government, subject to reasonable limitation as may be provided by law, including protection of the right of privacy.
SEARCHES AND SEIZURES

Section 5. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and other possessions against unreasonable searches and seizures and against invasions of privacy shall not be violated. No warrant for arrest or search shall be issued but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, thing to be seized, or person to be arrested. Interception of communications by eavesdropping devices or other means is prohibited, unless authorized by warrant issued under terms and conditions provided by law. Evidence obtained in violation of the rights of the accused as set forth in this section shall not be admissible as affirmative evidence against the accused in a criminal trial.
RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED

Section 6. (a) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, shall have the right to a speedy and public trial, and where the penalty may be imprisonment for more than six months, the right to trial by impartial jury; to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to have the assistance of counsel, and where the accused may be imprisoned, the assistance of counsel at public expense if necessary; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses, and to be confronted by the witnesses against him.
(b) Any person who is subjected to a custodial police interrogation shall, before he is questioned, be advised that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement that he makes may be used as evidence against him, and that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.
(c) Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted. All persons shall be presumed to be bailable, and such presumption shall be overcome only by a preponderance of the evidence, established by the Government, that the accused may flee the jurisdiction or that the granting of bail would constitute a danger to the community.
(d) No person shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense or be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. The failure of an accused to testify shall not be taken into consideration or commented upon to the detriment of the accused.
(e) All civil rights shall be restored to a person convicted of an offense upon the completion of any sentence served, subject to reasonable limitation as may be proscribed by law, which shall include any period of probation or parole.
Taxpayers' Bill of Rights

Section 7. The legislature shall prescribe and adopt a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights that, in clear and concise language, set forth taxpayers' rights and responsibilities and government's responsibilities to deal fairly with taxpayers under the laws of this territory.
PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY

Section 8. Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except in the latter case as a punishment for crime after the accused has been duly convicted.
NO IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT

Section 9. No person shall be imprisoned or suffer forced labor for debt.
HABEAS CORPUS

Section 10. All persons have the right to the writ of habeas corpus.
LABOR

Section 11. (a) All persons shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively, to strike and to picket, and to engage in other lawful concerted activities subject to reasonable limitations to protect health, welfare, and safety.
(b) Public employees engaged in services essential to the public health or safety may have the right to strike in accordance with law.
(c) All public employees and all employees of an individual private e
mployer shall have the right to equal pay for equal work: provided, however, that the phrase equal pay for equal work shall not be construed as requiring the equality of salaries, compensation, or benefits between public employees doing substantially equal work re-presented by different labor organizations.
(d) All employees shall have the right to reasonable protection against injuries in work or employment.
(e) The employment of children in any occupation injurious to their health, morals, or general welfare, or which places them in jeopardy of life or limb is prohibited.
(f) Waiver of judicial review shall not be a condition for employment.
PROTECTION OF PROPERTY

Section 12. Private property shall not be taken for public use without the payment of just compensation. Private property shall not be taken for other private use.
RESTRICTIONS OF LEGISLATION

Section 13. No ex post facto law, bill of attainder, or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be enacted.
QUARTERING OF SOLDIERS

Section 14. No soldier, in time of peace, shall be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, except as provided by law.
TRIAL BY JURY

Section 15. Trial by jury shall be preserved, but the Senate by law may authorize the trial of civil causes by a jury of no less than six persons.
RIGHT TO A HEALTHFUL ENVIRONMENT

Section 16. Every person has the right to a healthful environment subject to reasonable limitations as may be provided by law. Each person may enforce this right against any party subject to reasonable limitations as may be provided by law.
RIGHT AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Section 17.
There shall be no capital punishment in the Virgin Islands.
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN

Section 18 : The Senate shall, in addition to any rights and freedoms which are afforded to children, enact such laws as it considers fit to promote the well-being and welfare of children and to provide them protection from any harm, exploitation, neglect, abuse, maltreatment or degradation, and to provide them with such facilities as would aid their growth and development.
RESERVATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF RIGHTS

The preceding enumeration of rights shall not be construed restrictively nor shall it be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people. The Senate shall provide by law for the implementation and enforcement of this Article.
Marriage:

The legal union between man and woman.
Article II. PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT

Section 1. The Government of the Virgin Islands shall be republican in form and shall consist of three (3) branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial.
Section 2. An anthem, flag, seal, bird, flower, fish, and tree of the Virgin Islands, which shall symbolize the history and culture of the people, shall be provided by law. Within one year of the effective date of this Constitution, the Senate shall provide for the implementation of this section with public referendum. Once established by law, the anthem, flag, seal, bird, flower, fish and tree shall be incorporated and considered a part of this Constitution.

Editor's note: Share your thoughts on this section of the draft of the proposed constitution with other Source readers. Please include on the subject line the section you are writing about, and at the end of your letter include your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

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