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Basic Tenets of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

The constitution of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago is the supreme or highest law of the land. It must be followed by the President, the Prime Minister, Ministers of Government, the Chief Justice, the judicial arm of the State, all State and public officials and all the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. It sets out the structure and type of government we must follow and what powers they have. It makes sure that your rights are protected and sets up institutions to ensure that the government and other State officials do not abuse your rights. 

All other laws in the country must follow the Constitution, but the constitution does not replace these laws. Instead, it sets out the standards, which they must follow. Think of it as the foundation of a house - all other laws are like the doors, walls, windows and roof. When you build a house, what it looks like will depend on what the foundations are. So too, all the other laws in the country depend on what the Constitution says. 

The Constitution is also much harder to change than other laws. Parliament can usually change other written laws if more than 50% of the Members of parliament who are present support the change. This is called a simple majority.  

The Constitution however, needs what is called a Special Majority in order for Parliament to change any of its provisions. Some important and fundamental parts of the Constitution, such as the Enshrined Rights, need a special majority of not less than two-thirds of all the members of each House of Parliament, in order for these to be changed in any way. Other provisions in the constitution are equally difficult to change, requiring different special majorities. 

Because it is so difficult to change our Constitution, it means that governments have to follow its rules as well. These rules stay the same even if the government is changed. In that way the Constitution helps ensure our democratic way of life and the stability of our governmental institutions. 

 For further Information on the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago visit: 

www.ttparliament.org. Once you have logged on, go to the Publications tab on the Home page, and scroll down to sub-category termed Constitutional Documents. There is a section under the umbrella ‘Constitutional Resources 1946-Present’ which outlines and expounds upon all the Commissions and Committee Reports there have been on the Constitution. 

National Consultations took place in seventeen (17) different locations throughout Trinidad and Tobago during the period March 2013--May 2013 on reforming the Constitution for all members of the public. For additional information please visit:- http://www.crforumtt.org/ or call 625-3943 or 624-9275 or 627-6330

 

Laws of Trinidad and Tobago
Ministry of Legal Affairs

THE COSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
CHAPTER 1:01

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