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Jan 4, 2016

What’s the Fate of the Three Shipping Containers?

Eamon Courtenay

While Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who represents the Mennonite community, maintains that Jack Charles acted in open disobedience of the law.  As a result, the Customs and Excise Department, according to Courtenay, has indicated that the illegal cargo must leave the country sooner than later.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney, Belize Agro-productive Sector Group

“The rice producers who I represent didn’t even have to make any argument to the court.  The court looked at the application that was filed and it was not properly done and so she said that looking at it, it doesn’t even affect our clients even if she were to give permission.  So we weren’t called upon to make any submissions.  Essentially what the government argued, quite rightly in their submissions was that basically the issue that is before the court is an importer who says, “I need a license, I applied for it and didn’t get it, I don’t care, I’m bringing in my goods notwithstanding the fact that I have not obtained the necessary permit.”  Then come to court and say I don’t have the permit and I want the court to order the importation of a product that requires a license.  In effect asking the court to assist him to break the law.  The court was very clear that the court is not here to assist anyone in breaking the law and therefore a person who does not have the necessary import permit for the importation of rice will not be allowed to use the court as a basis on which to get some sort of relief.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, so would you describe his actions as sort of bullish to just force his way in as best he can?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Well I would use the language of the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture in his affidavit that it was done in defiance of the law.  Mr. Charles obviously believes that simply by bringing the product here he would be able to get what he wants, notwithstanding what the law says.  I think the big issue here, insofar as my clients are concerned is the decision that the Customs [& Excise Department] has now taken which is that the product must leave Belize.  They are giving them a chance to have the product leave Belize and if they don’t do that then the product has to be destroyed.  We do not want rice that has not been subject to a test to be brought into Belize.  It constitutes a risk not only to the agricultural sector but also to food security and safety because it would not have been tested.”

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