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Nov 26, 2014

Bar President Acknowledges Efforts of Lawyers in Prison Report

Eamon Courtenay

While the Bar Association has been panned for its so-called political affiliations, as well as its seeming lack of interest in assisting with legal aid, President Eamon Courtenay acknowledges that there are attorneys working diligently behind the scenes to address issues with existing legislation.  Those concerns, once rectified, would allow for juveniles to be granted bail for certain offences.

 

Eamon Courtenay, President, Belize Bar Association

“It’s more than a social justice effort.  We, in fact, have an obligation under our code of conduct, as well as under the general law to assist and to provide legal representation to those who cannot afford it.  And I think that what this has provided us is an excellent opportunity for those attorneys who want to discharge that duty and obligation to help the less privileged in our society.  Specifically, and I want to name them in order to give them the praise and recognition that they duly deserve, Audrey Matura-Sheppard and Leslie Mendez, along with others, have been doing sterling work on the juvenile side in getting those who should have an opportunity to ask for bail to be heard in court.  That’s one initiative.  We also have Priscilla Banner and others who are working on those prisoners who are serving exceedingly long sentences and those sentences should be reduced and I think that that’s another very important thing.  What we need are others to come on board to help us with the long delays.  Those with psychiatric issues who need not be there although there is no alternative place for them to go but at least to press the courts to vindicate these people’s rights.  I’m calling on any other member of the association who wants to help to come forward and to join us in this noble cause.  Let me just say that the association has been criticized, perhaps partly because we don’t make public some of the pro bono work that we do, but I think that whenever attorneys are called upon to do the work, to do the necessary work to see that justice is done I am very confident as a matter of fact that we have answered the call.  So, to those who criticize us, I say, join us.”

 

The Death Penalty Project works to protect the human rights of those facing the death penalty, operating in all countries by providing free legal representation, advice and assistance.

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