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Jan 29, 2015

UWI Hosts Seminar on Constitutional Rights

Today, the University of the West Indies hosted a forum entitled ‘the Impact of the Magna Carta on Human rights in Belize.’  The Magna Carta is a document signed in 1215 which effectively limited the absolute power of the King of England. It is considered to be the foundation for the concept of human rights in a democratic country – the concept of being governed by laws and not by men. Those premises, principles and rights have also found a home in the constitution of progressive countries including Belize. But how does the Magna Carta, considered the most important constitutional document of all time, relate to life in Belize today? This morning attorney Dickie Bradley, one of the speakers at the event, explained.

 

Dickie Bradley

Dickie Bradley, Speaker at Conference

“Having found its way into the Constitution of Belize under Chapter Two, which deals with all the rights that citizens have, a long list of rights…by finding its way into that document it means what they started eight hundred years ago is what we are protected under. The constitution protects your right that Police can’t kick down your door and come break up your house and haul you out…the Police have to follow the law just like the King and rulers. The person who is taken down to the Police Station…the law of this land, the constitution itself, says that you can’t take a person down to the Police Station unless you are going to charge them…you can’t take away man’s liberty. That is in gross violation of the rights of Belizeans, and lots of other things. You can’t take away a person’s land. We know what happens with land in this country…they arbitrarily take away people’s land. You don’t even know that you’ve lost your land. They just give your land to somebody else. When you go to pay your taxes they tell you no, they’ve taken away your land. You don’t even get a notice. All those things are illegal because the constitution makes them so, and the constitution comes from a series of Magna Cartas that men and women stood up and were bold and brave enough to confront the absolute rule of a King of England, of several kings. It is relevant to us because by speaking of the Magna Carta to students, to the future leaders of the nation, they will have a better appreciation of what it took to bring these concepts into the Constitution, how great it is to be protected, not by a king, but by the supreme law of the land.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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