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May 20, 2016

P.U.P. Challenge Sarstoon Law in Court

The People’s United Party was in court today challenging the Statutory Instrument informally dubbed the Sarstoon Law. It prohibits civilians from going into the river under the Public Safety Act, and was a last ditch legal maneuver by government when all dire warnings and pleas failed. It’s the law, but is it lawful? The P.U.P. says it’s not, and managed to get a first hearing this morning. At this stage its case management…what steps are to be taken and a timeline. Because of the early date fixed, the deadline for the filing of a response by government has not yet elapsed, so an indication was given early by G.O.B. and the G.G. that more time was needed. News Five spoke to attorney Andrew Marshalleck and P.U.P. Leader John Briceño as they left the Supreme Court this morning.

 

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for P.U.P.

“The Governor-General in deciding to promulgate the SI acted outside of the scope of his authority as conferred by the provisions of the Public Safety Act in that the trigger for making a law of this nature is that he must be satisfied that there is a risk to public safety caused by some risk of civil commotion, and again we say that there is nothing in fact that happened or that was likely to happen that would have given rise to any civil commotion which would have then entitled him to do as he did.”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

Reporter

“If the government does not renew or extent the SI in any way, will the Court still be minded to hear this case given that it will then become academic?”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

“The mind of the Court will be known when they pronounce upon it. There will certainly be arguments both ways. Our position will be that there is benefit to be had in the Court’s definingthe circumstances in which powers of this nature can properly be exercised. The government will of course say that there is no value to be had in that, and there’s no practical risk of this thing happening again. So there’s no point to it and it’s a waste of time. Those arguments will be put and will be fully ventilated. As to what the mind of the Court is, we will learn about it when it is pronounced.”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“For us it is important to make it abundantly clear to the prime Minister that we will not stand for it – that Belizeans on a whole are outraged by the very idea that we can no longer visit parts of our country, so our objective here is one that, as the legal advisor said, to challenge the law and hopefully we can get a ruling to better define when a government can pass certain SIs preventing people from going in certain areas under certain circumstances.”

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