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Table of Contents

  1. Preamble
  2. PART I. THE STATE AND THE CONSTITUTION
  3. DIVISION 1. THE STATE
  4. DIVISION 2. THE CONSTITUTION
  5. DIVISION 3. ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
  6. PART II. BILL OF RIGHTS
  7. DIVISION 1. PRELIMINARY
  8. DIVISION 2. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS
  9. DIVISION 3. PROTECTION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
  10. SUBDIVISION A. PROTECTION GENERALLY
  11. SUBDIVISION B. SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS
  12. DIVISION 4. PUBLIC EMERGENCIES
  13. DIVISION 5. ENFORCEMENT OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS
  14. PART III. CITIZENSHIP
  15. PART IV. THE SOVEREIGN AND THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
  16. DIVISION 1. THE SOVEREIGN
  17. DIVISION 2. FUNCTIONS OF THE HEAD OF STATE
  18. DIVISION 3. THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
  19. PART V. THE EXECUTIVE
  20. DIVISION 1. THE EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY OF TUVALU
  21. DIVISION 2. THE MINISTERS
  22. DIVISION 3. THE CABINET
  23. DIVISION 4. OFFICERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CABINET
  24. DIVISION 5. THE POWER OF MERCY
  25. PART VI. PARLIAMENT AND LAW-MAKING
  26. DIVISION 1. PARLIAMENT
  27. DIVISION 2. THE LAW-MAKING POWER
  28. DIVISION 3. MEMBERSHIP OF PARLIAMENT
  29. SUBDIVISION B. ELECTORS
  30. SUBDIVISION C. CANDIDATES
  31. SUBDIVISION D. MEMBERS
  32. SUBDIVISION E. MISCELLANEOUS
  33. DIVISION 4. THE SPEAKER
  34. DIVISION 5. PROCEDURES IN PARLIAMENT
  35. DIVISION 6. MISCELLANEOUS
  36. DIVISION 7. SUMMONING, DISSOLUTION, ETC
  37. PART VII. THE COURTS
  38. DIVISION 1. GENERAL
  39. DIVISION 2. THE HIGH COURT
  40. SUBDIVISION A. ESTABLISHMENT, ETC
  41. SUBDIVISION B. JURISDICTION
  42. DIVISION 3. THE COURT OF APPEAL
  43. DIVISION 4. THE SOVEREIGN IN COUNCIL
  44. PART VIII. PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT
  45. DIVISION 1. GENERAL
  46. DIVISION 2. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
  47. DIVISION 3. GENERAL FUNCTIONS OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
  48. DIVISION 4. PERSONNEL FUNCTIONS
  49. DIVISION 5. REMOVAL, ETC., OF CERTAIN OFFICIALS
  50. PART IX. FINANCE
  51. DIVISION 1. PARLIAMENT AND FINANCE
  52. DIVISION 2. THE AUDITOR-GENERAL
  53. PART X. TRANSITIONAL
  54. SCHEDULE 1. RULES FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION (SECTION 4
  55. SCHEDULE 2. ELECTION AND APPOINTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER (SECTION 63
  56. SCHEDULE 3. PROCEDURE, ETC., OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AND CERTAIN TRIBUNALS (SECTIONS 127, 152, 162
  57. SCHEDULE 4. OATHS AND AFFIRMATIONS (SECTIONS 57, 72 AND 112
  58. SCHEDULE 5. TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS (SECTION 173

Constitution of Tuvalu (1986)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

2


3Preamble

4WHEREAS in adopting the Independence Constitution of Tuvalu the people of Tuvalu provided in the Preamble to it as follows:—

5“WHEREAS the Islands in the Pacific Ocean then known as the Ellice Islands came under the protection of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria in September 1892 and on 12 January 1916 in conjunction with the Gilbert Islands became known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony;

6“AND WHEREAS on 1 October 1975 Her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was graciously pleased to establish the Ellice Islands as a separate colony under their ancient name of Tuvalu;

7“AND WHEREAS the people of Tuvalu, acknowledging God as the Almighty and Everlasting Lord and giver of all good things, humbly place themselves under His good providence and seek His blessing upon themselves and their lives;

8“AND WHEREAS the people of Tuvalu desire to constitute themselves as an Independent State based on Christian principles, the Rule of Law, and Tuvaluan custom and tradition;

9“NOW THEREFORE the people of Tuvalu hereby affirm their allegiance to Her Most Excellent Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and do hereby proclaim the establishment of a free and democratic sovereign nation…..”;

10AND WHEREAS the Constitution then adopted, which was given the force of law by Order in Council of Her Most Excellent Majesty dated 25 July 1978 and taking effect on 1 October 1978, provided for its amendment or replacement by Ordinance of the Parliament established by it for Tuvalu;

11AND WHEREAS that Constitution has served the people of Tuvalu well since Independence but now, more than seven years since its adoption, it is time that the people of Tuvalu reconsidered it in the light of their history and their present and future needs as they see them;

12NOW THEREFORE, the people of Tuvalu, having considered, as individuals, in their maneapas and island councils, and in their Parliament, what should be in their constitution, give to themselves the following Constitution:

13IN SO DOING, the people of Tuvalu set out for themselves and for their governmental institutions, the following Principles:—

14Principles of the Constitution

151.The principles set out in the Preamble to the Independence Constitution are re-affirmed and re-adopted.

162.The right of the people of Tuvalu, both present and future, to a full, free and happy life, and to moral, spiritual, personal and material welfare, is affirmed as one given to them by God.

173.While believing that Tuvalu must take its rightful place amongst the community of nations in search of peace and the general welfare, nevertheless the people of Tuvalu recognize and affirm, with gratitude to God, that the stability of Tuvaluan society and the happiness and welfare of the people of Tuvalu, both present and future, depend very largely on the maintenance of Tuvaluan values, culture and tradition, including the vitality and the sense of identity of island communities and attitudes of co-operation, self- help and unity within and amongst those communities.

184.Amongst the values that the people of Tuvalu seek to maintain are their traditional forms of communities, the strength and support of the family and family discipline.

195.In government, and in social affairs generally, the guiding principles of Tuvalu are—

20agreement, courtesy and the search for consensus, in accordance with traditional Tuvaluan procedures, rather than alien ideas of confrontation and divisiveness;

21the need for mutual respect and co-operation between the different kinds of authorities concerned, including the central Government, the traditional authorities, local governments and authorities, and the religious authorities.

226.The life and the laws of Tuvalu should therefore be based on respect for human dignity, and on the acceptance of Tuvaluan values and culture, and on respect for them.

237.Nevertheless, the people of Tuvalu recognize that in a changing world, and with changing needs, these principles and values, and the manner and form of their expression (especially in legal and administrative matters), will gradually change, and the Constitution not only must recognize their fundamental importance to the life of Tuvalu but also must not unnecessarily hamper their expression and their development.

24THESE PRINCIPLES, under the guidance of God, are solemnly adopted and affirmed as the basis of this Constitution, and as the guiding principles to be observed in its interpretation and application at all levels of government and organized life.

25PART I. THE STATE AND THE CONSTITUTION

26DIVISION 1. THE STATE

271. THE STATE

28Tuvalu is a sovereign democratic State, governed in accordance with this Constitution and in particular in accordance with the Principles set out in the Preamble.

292. THE AREA OF TUVALU

301. Subject to subsections (3) and (4), the area of Tuvalu consists of the land areas referred to in subsection (2), together with—

31a.the territorial sea and the inland waters as declared by law, the land beneath them, and the air space above; and

32b.such additional lands and waters as are declared by law to be part of the land area of Tuvalu.

332. The land areas referred to in subsection (1) consist of all islands, rocks and reefs within the area bounded by—

34a.the parallel 05°S; and

35b.the meridian 180°E; and

36c.the parallel 11°S; and

37d.the meridian 176°E,

38together with all small islands, islets, rocks and reefs depending on them.

393. For the purpose of implementing any international agreement binding on Tuvalu and approved by Parliament by resolution for the purposes of this section, subsection (2) may be amended by Act of Parliament made in accordance with section 7 (alteration to the Constitution generally), without reference to the requirement of a special majority of votes under section 7(3) (which requires Bills to alter the Constitution to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament).

404. Nothing in this section prevents a law from proclaiming the jurisdiction of Tuvalu, complete or partial, over any area of land or water or airspace above, or prevents a law from having extra-territorial effect in accordance with section 84 (vesting of the lawmaking power).

41DIVISION 2. THE CONSTITUTION

423. THE CONSTITUTION AS SUPREME LAW

431. This Constitution is the supreme law of Tuvalu and, subject to subsection (2), any act (whether legislative, executive or judicial) that is inconsistent with it is, to the extent of the inconsistency, void.

442. All other laws shall be interpreted and applied subject to this Constitution, and, as far as is practicable, in such a way as to conform with it.

454. INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

461. The provisions of Schedule 1 (Rules for the Interpretation of the Constitution) apply for the purpose of the interpretation of this Constitution.

472. In all cases, this Constitution shall be interpreted and applied consistently with the Principles set out in the Preamble.

483. Subject to subsection (2), this Constitution shall be interpreted and applied in such a way as to achieve the aims of fair and democratic government, in the light of reason and experience and of Tuvaluan values.

495. JURISDICTION OF THE HIGH COURT IN CONSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

50The High Court has the jurisdiction in relation to the interpretation, application and enforcement of this Constitution conferred by—

51a.section 14 (Parliamentary declaration of purpose); and

52b.Division 5 of Part II (Enforcement of the Bill of Rights);

53c.section 131 (constitutional interpretation),

54and otherwise by law.

55DIVISION 3. ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

566. INTERPRETATION OF DIVISION 3

57In this Division, a reference to this Constitution includes a reference to any other law so far as that law alters the Constitution.

587. ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION GENERALLY

591. An Act of Parliament may alter this Constitution.

602. A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution must state that it is a Bill to alter this Constitution.

613. Subject to—

62a.section 2(3) (which relates to alterations to the description of the land areas of Tuvalu); and

63b.section 8 (alterations to the Constitution to give effect to UK constitutional arrangements),

64a Bill for an Act to alter this Constitution is not passed by Parliament unless it is supported at its final reading in Parliament by the votes of two-thirds of the total membership of Parliament.

654. A Bill for an Act to alter this Constitution shall not be excluded from the operation of section 111(2) (which relates to the circulation of Bills to local governments and authorities).

668. ALTERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION TO GIVE EFFECT TO U.K. CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

671. If as a result of constitutional change in or in relation to, or affecting, the United Kingdom any provision of, or any reference in, this Constitution ceases to be appropriate, the Head of State, acting in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet, may, by order, make such alterations to this Constitution as appear to be necessary or convenient to adapt it to the new constitutional arrangements.

682. An order under subsection (1)—

69a.shall be presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister; and

70b.unless previously confirmed, with or without modification, by an Act of Parliament, expires at the end of the second session of Parliament that commences after it is made.

713. The requirement of a special majority of votes under section 7(3) (which requires Bills to alter the Constitution to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament) does not apply in relation to a Bill for the purposes of subsection (2)(b).

724. A Bill for the purposes of subsection (2)(b) shall not be excluded from the operation of section 111(2) (which relates to the circulation of Bills to local governments).

73PART II. BILL OF RIGHTS

74DIVISION 1. PRELIMINARY

759. INTERPRETATION OF PART II

761. In this Part, “court” means a court having jurisdiction in Tuvalu, including—

77a.the Court of Appeal; and

78b.the Sovereign in Council,

79but, except in sections 17 (personal liberty) and 18 (slavery and forced labour), does not include a court or tribunal established by a disciplinary law.

802. In this Part, a reference to the national interest includes a reference to the public interest in—

81a.defence; or

82b.national security; or

83c.public safety; or

84d.public order; or

85e.the protection of the international standing and reputation of Tuvalu and its products (including the supply of labour overseas); or

86f.the protection and development of Tuvaluan values and culture.

873. A reference in this Part to consent is a reference to consent whether express or implied.

884. Where this Part requires or permits the consent of a person under the age of 18 years, the consent may be given on his behalf by one of his parents or guardians.

89DIVISION 2. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

9010. FREEDOM UNDER LAW

911. Freedom based on law consists of the least restriction on the activities of individuals consistent with the public welfare and the maintenance and development of Tuvalu and Tuvaluan society in accordance with this Constitution and, in particular, in accordance with the Principles set out in the Preamble.

922. Everyone has the right to freedom based on law, and accordingly, subject to this 0Constitution—

93a.everyone has the legal right to do anything that—

94i.does not injure others, or interfere with the rights and freedoms of others; and

95ii.is not prohibited by law; and

96b.no-one may be—

97i.legally obliged to do anything that is not required by law; or

98ii.prevented by law from doing anything that complies with the provisions of paragraph (a).

993. This section is not intended to deny the existence, nature or effect of cultural, social, civic, family or religious obligations, or other obligations of a non-legal nature, or to prevent such obligations being given effect by law if, and so far as, it may be thought appropriate to do so.

10011. THE FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

1011. Every person in Tuvalu is entitled, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs, or sex, to the following fundamental rights and freedoms:—

102a.the right not to be deprived of life (see section 16); and

103b.personal liberty (see sections 17 and 18); and

104c.security for his person (see sections 18 and 19); and

105d.the protection of the law (see section 22); and

106e.freedom of belief (see section 23); and

107f.freedom of expression (see section 24); and

108g.freedom of assembly and association (see section 25); and

109h.protection for the privacy of his home and other property (see section 21); and

110i.protection from unjust deprivation of property (see section 20), and to other rights and freedoms set out in this Part or otherwise by law.

1112. The rights and freedoms referred to in subsection (1) can, in Tuvaluan society, be exercised only—

112a.with respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the national interest; and

113b.in acceptance of Tuvaluan values and culture, and with respect for them.

1143. The purpose of this Part is to protect those rights and freedoms, subject to limitations on them that are designed primarily to give effect to subsection (2).

11512. APPLICATION OF PART II

1161. Each provision of this Part applies, as far as may be—

117a.between individuals as well as between governmental bodies and individuals; and

118b.to and in relation to corporations and associations (other than governmental bodies) in the same way as it applies to and in relation to individuals,

119except where, or to the extent that, the context requires otherwise.

1202. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law, any act that is done under a valid law but that in the particular case—

121a.is harsh or oppressive; or

122b.is not reasonable in the circumstances; or

123c.is otherwise not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society having a proper respect for human rights and dignity,

124is an unlawful act.

1253. The burden of showing that subsection (2) applies in respect of an act is on the party claiming that it does apply.

1264. Nothing in this section affects the operation of any other law under which an act may be held to be unlawful.

12713. THE PRINCIPLES OF THE PREAMBLE

128The Principles set out in the Preamble are adopted as part of the basic law of Tuvalu, from which human rights and freedoms derive and on which they are based.

12914. PARLIAMENTARY DECLARATIONS OF PURPOSE

1301. When the purpose of an Act of Parliament is specifically declared in the Act, then in considering the possible effect on that Act of Division 3 (Protection of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) a court shall give due weight to that declaration as a statement of the considered opinion of Parliament.

1312. If an Act of Parliament specifically declares that a certain provision is required in the national interest, a court shall, subject to subsection (3), presume that the provision was reasonably required in the national interest.

1323. Subsection (2) does not apply if the High Court is satisfied that the provision could not reasonably be said to have been intended primarily to serve the national interest.

13315. REASONABLY JUSTIFIABLE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY

1341. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Part, other than—

135a.section 33 (hostile disciplined forces); and

136b.section 36 (restrictions on certain rights and freedoms during public emergencies),

137all laws, and all acts done under a law, must be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has a proper respect for human rights and dignity.

1382. Any question whether a law is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has a proper respect for human rights and dignity is to be determined in the light of the circumstances existing at the time when the decision on the question is made.

1393. Subsection (2) does not affect any question whether an act done under a law was reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has a proper respect for human rights and dignity.

1404. A law may be declared not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has a proper respect for human rights and dignity only by the High Court or some other court prescribed for the purpose by or under an Act of Parliament.

1415. In determining whether a law or act is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that has a proper respect for human rights and dignity, a court may have regard to—

142a.traditional standards, values and practices, as well as previous laws and judicial decisions, of Tuvalu; and

143b.law, practices and judicial decisions of other countries that the court reasonably regards as democratic; and

144c.international conventions, declarations, recommendations and judicial decisions concerning human rights; and

145d.any other matters that the court thinks relevant.

146DIVISION 3. PROTECTION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

147SUBDIVISION A. PROTECTION GENERALLY

14816. LIFE

1491. Subject to the provisions of this Part, and in particular to—

150a.subsection (2); and

151b.section 32 (foreign disciplined forces); and

152c.section 33 (hostile disciplined forces),

153no-one shall be killed intentionally.

1542. A person shall not be considered to have been killed in contravention of this section if he dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary—

155a.for the defence of any person from violence; or

156b.for the defence of property; or

157c.in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of any person lawfully detained; or

158d.for the purpose of suppressing a riot, rebellion or mutiny; or

159e.in order to prevent him from committing an offence,

160or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war.

16117. PERSONAL LIBERTY

1621. Subject to the provisions of this Part, and in particular to—

163a.the succeeding provisions of this section; and

164b.section 31 (disciplined forces of Tuvalu); and

165c.section 32 (foreign disciplined forces); and

166d.section 33 (hostile disciplined forces); and

167e.section 36 (restrictions on certain rights and freedoms during public emergencies),

168no-one shall be detained except—

169f.with his consent; or

170g.as authorized by law in the cases set out in subsection (2).

1712. Subsection (1) (g) applies in the following cases:—

172a.in the case of a person under the age of 18 years—in the reasonable exercise of the authority of a parent, teacher or guardian, or under the order of a court for the purpose of his education, welfare or proper discipline; or

173b.under a warrant or order of a court; or

174c.for the purposes of extradition; or

175d.in order to bring the person before a court to be dealt with in accordance with law; or

176e.in the case of detention of a person on reasonable suspicion of his having committed, or being about to commit, an offence; or

177f.in the case of reasonable temporary detention of a person for the avoidance of actual or apprehended violence, disorder or breach of the peace; or

178g.in the case of reasonable temporary detention of a person so affected by drink or a drug to make detention desirable for his own protection or that of others; or

179h.in the case of detention of a person for quarantine or health purposes; or

180i.in the case of detention of a person under the laws relating to unlawful immigration or to deportation; or

181j.in the case of detention of a person incidental to the arrest or seizure of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft; or

182k.in the case of detention of a person as a prisoner of war or, subject to Division 4 (Public Emergencies), as a civil or military internee in time of war; or

183l.in the case of detention of a person required by and for the purposes of any international or multi-national convention, treaty or arrangement to which Tuvalu is a party and which is approved by Parliament, by resolution, for the purposes of this paragraph; or

184m.in the case of restrictions on liberty or detention of a person permitted by section 26 (freedom of movement) or Division 4 (Public Emergencies).

1853. A person who is detained shall be informed as soon as practicable, and in a language that he understands, of the reason for his detention.

1864. A person who is detained—

187a.for the purpose of bringing him before a court; or

188b.on reasonable suspicion of having committed, or being about to commit, an offence; or

189c.for temporary purposes, in accordance with subsection (2)(f) or (g),

190and who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court, and unless the court, in accordance with law, orders his continued detention it shall order his release.

1915. If a person detained on suspicion of having committed an offence is not tried within a reasonable time, he shall be released either unconditionally or on reasonable conditions (including in particular conditions reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial).

1926. A release under subsection (5) does not prevent further proceedings being brought, in accordance with law, against the released person.

19318. SLAVERY AND FORCED LABOUR

1941. Subject to the provisions of this Part, and in particular to—

195a.the succeeding provisions of this section; and

196b.section 32 (foreign disciplined forces); and

197c.section 33 (hostile disciplined forces); and

198d.section 36 (restrictions on certain rights and freedoms during public emergencies),

199no-one shall—

200e.be held in slavery or servitude; or

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