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Oct 30, 2009

Patrick Faber loses case about 2005 run-in with police

Story PictureIt was a major public spectacle when the then youthful area representative, Patrick Faber, was arrested on April twenty-eighth 2005 as he tried to enter a forum at the University of Belize in Belmopan. That forum was organized for the students to address former Prime Minister, Said Musa, about societal issues at a time when his government was unpopular. But when Faber and other activists, including Mayor Zenaida Moya Flowers, who was an officer for the Public Service Union at the time, were kept out, all hell broke loose. After the incident, Faber brought a constitutional suit against the government and a ruling was handed down today. But first here’s a walk down memory lane of Faber’s literal run-in with the law.

Patrick Faber, Area Rep., Collet Division (File: April 28th, 2005)
“This is a public institution. Si di flyer yah people; public forum inviting the people of this country to come out to a public forum. They have stopped the people of this country from coming in just to protect Prime Minister Musa. What is your reasoning for noh want me as a member of the National Assembly… I neva come inna dah crowd, I get in my vehicle and I drove here from Belize City.”

[Police chasing Faber…]

Faber was later charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault and was freed of the offences in July, 2005. But Faber felt that his constitutional rights and freedoms were breached when the police restricted him from entering the forum. The matter went to court in October of that year, and today Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh contended that the police did have the right to stop Faber from entering the UB Auditorium where the discussions were being held. Based on that, the CJ ruled that he is not convinced that Faber’s constitutional rights and freedoms were violated. We met Faber as he exited the court and he says the judgment is not what he was expecting.

Patrick Faber, Ministry of Education
“Well I’m a bit surprised but I’m not a legal person of course, but I expected at least that—well what was the decision was basically based on the fact that it was not a public forum and I think that was all a matter for the judge to decide. If it were determined to be a public forum it would be a totally different thing. I believe what he used to determine whether it was a public forum was the testimony of those people from UB who, of course, at the time were under the control of the government so you could understand. I will tell you now, I will disclose now that immediately after this incident happened in April of 2005, officials from the University of Belize met with me a day or two afterwards to tell me that they had not asked the police to be there, they apologized to me for the whole entire incident happening and were reluctant to give statements but of course, were pressured to do so. There were those members of the police as well who came here and told untruthful stories in my opinion all because of course they worked for the government and that is the way I believe they had to do it.”

Janelle Chanona, Freelance Reporter
“But you being the government of the day, are you suggesting that UB officials and members of the police department are being politically—or were under political influence?”

Patrick Faber
“Well, I’m saying that anyone who works for the government would be under that kind of pressure. The police were not asked to be there. They went to that campus, which is an autonomous campus. The university is autonomous and the police have no jurisdiction on the campus of the university unless they are specifically asked to do so by the university and there is evidence to suggest that was not the case.”

Even considering the outcome, Faber says he would not have done anything differently if given the chance.

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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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