Workshop on the technical review of proposed amendments to the Constitution of Guinea Bissau with the Parliaments of Guinea Bissau and Portugal

From March 16 – 18, 2022, four MPs and two staff from the Parliament of Guinea Bissau’s Constitutional Review Commission and constitutional experts from academia and staff of the Portuguese Parliament participated in detailed exchanges about the technical and legal quality of the proposed revisions to the country’s constitution.  The review entailed discussions about the legal framework of chapters and titles, cross-checking the references in the document, suggestions about clarifying the legal language, and clarity of articles proposed.

The opening session was presided over by the Secretary-General of the Portuguese Assembleia da República, Mr. Albino de Azevedo Soares who highlighted Portugal’s long and ongoing history of revising its own constitution.  The Chair of the Constitutional Review Commission spoke about the Delegation’s purpose, which was to “clarify concepts, norms, and address omissions and lacunae, so that Guinea Bissau’s constitution will be better understood and more uniformly applied by all”.  The EC Policy Officer for Democracy and INTER PARES Gonzalo Jorro Martinez, addressed the Delegation, mentioning the importance of constitutional revisions in the context of the project’s goals for parliamentary development and how this event was demonstrating the connection between theory and practice.

Following the opening, four Members and two staff, including the Secretary-General from the Assembleia Nacional Popular reviewed all sections of the proposed constitutional revision with the support of two constitutional experts, Dr. Jaime Valle and Dr. Emilio Kafft Kosta. The experts drew on comparative international constitutional theory and practice to inform the amendment-by-amendment review of all 315 articles in the proposed revisions.

The Delegation attested that the activity contributed valuable support to the Assembleia Nacional Popular in its aim of clarifying the proposed amendments.  Parliamentary deliberations and discussions about the draft will take place in Guinea Bissau in April and May when the multi-party commission reviews the draft.   The final draft of the proposed revision will be discussed and voted on in the upcoming parliamentary session.