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Jan 12, 2018

London Lawyers Say There’s Still Time for Maritime Areas Amendment

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

The Government of Belize is still in no apparent hurry to amend the 1992 Maritime Areas Act as called for by the Opposition, which introduced it when they were in government. To facilitate a potential settlement of the Guatemalan claim, the Act proposed to set aside territorial waters from Ranguana Caye to the Sarstoon River in negotiation over limits and boundaries between the countries. Now that there is no further negotiation taking place, the Act should be amended to take that sticking point off the table, as both sides agree. But Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington reiterated that, as agreed by Government’s lawyers in the U.K., Belize is not in an appreciably better position amending now rather than later, as the damage has already been done.

 

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“They did not advise me not to do it.”

 

Reporter

“So what was it that they shared with you?”

 

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“Their advice is that the timing to do it would be a matter for us administratively at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and that there is no urgency for us to do it at this time.”

 

Reporter

“Why do you consider that there is no urgency, or does the matter of what Guatemala’s response would be comes into play?”

 

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“If the Maritime Areas Act has been harmful to us, the harm was done in 1993. Nothing we do now is going to make it different. The harm was done in 1993. Because what is going to happen when we do go to the I.C.J. is they will look at what you were prepared to do in 1993, even though later on we decided to resile from that position, they are going to look at all the documentation. And from the evidence I have gathered since then to now, that was not the only egregious step that was taken; there were some other, to my mind equally and more serious steps that were taken during the term of the People’s United Party; very, very worrying, which  I just learned when I was at that meeting in London. So that is not the only issue at this time. But the damage done would have been done, to my mind, at the time when those things were done, largely because all those are on record. So when you go to court the court tends to have all the records before it to look at it, so the fact that we want to amend it today or tomorrow is not going to make, in my view, much of a difference. We have time to deal with that at a time that is convenient to the Government and Cabinet of Belize, but not now.”

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