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Dec 1, 2015

Families Will Seek Legal Redress

Arthur Saldivar

Collectively, attorneys offering counsel to the fire victims’ families have come up with a figure for compensation in the absence of a formula such as the one used to calculate the potential earnings of an adult.  According to Saldivar, the existing laws of Belize do not provide for compensation in the death of persons under the age of eighteen years.

 

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney-at-Law

“As it relates to the families, of course they do have the civil courts redress in terms of the ultimate responsibility given to the Ministry of Human Development.  It‘s under that ministry that the hostel falls under and whatever policy or procedures that were not being followed by the workers of that institution require the oversight of the ministry.  If the ministry is also deemed to have been negligent in its responsibility to ensure that those procedures were being followed then the ministry is also liable.  And under that regard the families can seek redress through that avenue.  Sad to say however, because at the end of the day nobody wants to raise the hopes of anyone that there is anything major to be gained from it because the sad truth is there is no value placed on a young life in Belize legally.  This is because there is a formula that is used to determine compensation and that formula starts with your earnings.  So it‘s only at the time when a person reaches the age where they can actually work and where they are actually receiving remuneration that the calculation is made.  That calculation is dependent on how long the person has to the age of retirement.  So that‘s where it starts.  So a person at the age of sixteen, seventeen, not working, has no real expectation of financial compensation and as a result of that the families won‘t be getting much even though they have that right to apply to the courts for redress.  This is the reason why a number of my colleagues and I, I believe you will be speaking to one of them later on today, have come up with this proposal that we feel strongly about and will be advancing that the minimum value on a child‘s life in Belize should be three hundred thousand [dollars.]  That should be where we start, so that whether it be the authorities or somebody in private life causing the death of or unlawful or wrongful death of a child, that is the minimum that should be there as compensation.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How do you derive that quantum?”

 

Arthur Saldivar

“Well, Isani, the quantum as it relates to three hundred thousand, if we say that we value our children and no one knows what the potential of a child would be.  We are not Nostradamus, we don’t have a crystal ball, we understand however, that in our society there are those with economic means and those without.  Those with economic means their children would not be at the hostel, their children would not be placed in this kind of environment.  But we cannot discriminate as it relates to where the children come from because none of us choose to whom we are born, so the three hundred thousand dollar threshold that has been suggested is in relation to the promise or potential that that person may have had to not only contribute to the society but contribute to the family that has been left bereaved.  So that is the basis for it.”

 

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