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Jun 27, 2001

A.G. says no secret, treaty was known to all

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While the Leader of the Opposition claimed to be dropping a bombshell, Attorney General Godfrey Smith believes that the allegation is one more instance of much ado about nothing.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney General

“I can’t see how Mr. Barrow could be talking about it being done in secrecy and I say that for two reasons: one, that very same treaty against which he is now raging, was under discussion with governments, meaning the UDP government and the People’s United Party government. And it was under Mr. Barrow’s hand that the Major Legal Assistance Treaty was brought to the point at which he felt the government at the time was in a position to initial it. From his own words, he said that he put certain questions to the Prime Minister about it in the House. To my mind, those two things go to show that it wasn’t done in secrecy at all, that it’s a matter that was under review for many years, first under Mr. Barrow as Minister of Foreign Affairs and then it was continued under the People’s United Party. The Prime Minister was asked directly questions about it, which he answered in the House of Representatives.”

Stewart Krohn

“What about the issue of the Prime Minister both signing the treaty and ratifying it?”

Godfrey Smith

“Well, all treaties when you sign them you intend to ratify them at some point. The Prime Minister signed some time in September of 2000 and some months later ratified on behalf of the Government of Belize. The obligations on the part nation’s leader are to comport with the constitution and laws of Belize, which currently…I’m not aware, Stewart of any instance in the past where a piece of treaty, or portions of the treaty or series of the treaties are introduced into the House for debate. That is not to say that maybe the time hasn’t come for us to look at the issue of doing that. I can see no harm in doing it, but certainly I wish to make it very clear that there exist no obligation, legal or otherwise, on the leader of this country, on the leader of this party to introduce that treaty into the House of Representatives.”

Stewart Krohn

“As the Attorney General and member of Cabinet, do you think this treaty is a good thing for Belize?”

Godfrey Smith

“Well that depends. Certainly my advice to Cabinet when asked about it, was that we did our review of the rest of the West Indies and all the major countries in the Caribbean had in fact signed treaties. When you’re in the seat of government, you realise sometimes that based on certain world-wide international movements which impact and impinge on Belize, that you’re required to go along because it could hurt in another way down the line.”

Although Belize has ratified the treaty, it will not come into effect until the U.S. Senate decides to ratify it.

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