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Aug 3, 2011

Minister of Foreign Affairs gives government’s assessment of 9th Amendment

As we said earlier, there has been overwhelming opposition to the proposed ninth amendment to the constitution. We’ve brought you several views from legal minds, parliamentarians as well as the viewers via our online poll and blog. And although the government insists that it has the support of the people, the general sentiment is that such legislation takes Belize in a dangerous direction. But the government continues to defend the bill and today the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, was a guest on Open Your Eyes. According to Elrington, there should not be cause for alarm because the law as it stands already prevents judicial review of the content of constitutional amendments and that the proposed law is to prevent judges from “stretching the interpretation of the constitution.” Here’s his explanation.

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“When you go before a judge he has his own bias you know, he has his own prejudices. So what the prime minister and the Cabinet was seeking to do and the legal draftsman, was to draft the constitution in such a way that no judge would be able to use any kind of special device or artifice to try to stretch the interpretation of the constitution. And we believe that in the previous case, Conteh, when he said that you had to go to referendum before you do the sixth amendment, he was stretching the constitution to the breaking point.  It’s already in our law that we have the ability as the National Assembly to make any amendment to the constitution, to repeal the entire constitution.”

Marleni Cuellar

Wilfred "Sedi" Elrington

“We’ve had that portion pointed out to us before…”

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“There’s no dispute in that. This is not saying anything more. And the court never had the authority to look into the content of the amended constitution. that is not its business.”

Marleni Cuellar

But we’ve had cases before where amendments have been challenged.

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“Yes, but let me make it very clear to you. Amendments to the constitution can be challenged anytime. You can take a case to court anytime to say there’s an amendment to constitution that we think is unconstitutional. But the cases have disclosed very clearly that you can only challenge it to the extent of showing that the process…”

Marleni Cuellar

“This is after the ninth amendment—If the ninth amendment is passed…”

Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington

“No, no, no; this has always been the case. It’s always been the case that you can go to court right now and challenge any amendment. You can go back and challenge any of the amendments to the constitution you know, any provision in the constitution right now. You can go there right now and challenge any of them; any of them. You can do that right now but you are limited in the challenge. You can only say to the court that the process that was used to alter the constitution was bad.”

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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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7 Responses for “Minister of Foreign Affairs gives government’s assessment of 9th Amendment”

  1. linda says:

    I am so disappointed with what the PM is doing. He is acting on behalf of his own interst. Not for the people’s interest. This will discourage outside investors from coming to Belize. This will increase unemployment. We, the people have to pay for BTL through higher taxes. If the PM is doing what he wants, soon he might become a dictator. People open you eyes and realize that it will not benefit us in the long run.

  2. REGGIE says:

    SEDI I WOULD NEVER BELIVED YOU WOULD CHANGE AND FOLLOW DEAN TO CHANGE THE CONSTIT

    SEDI POWER CHANGE PEOPLE.YOU ARE ONE MINISTER I HAVE EXPECT TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE.WHEN YOU WORE RUNNING YOU NEVER USED THE RED COLOR YOU WORE GREEN.NOW IS SEEMS THAT POWER MAKE YOU USED RED.LISTEN TO YOUR BROTHER.YOU SHOULD BE WORKING ON THE CRIME IN THE COUNTRY ALONG WITH AG PITTS WHO NO ONE HEARD FROM.GIVE US AN UPDATE ON HIM.ALL THE KILLING WHAT IS UR GOB DOING?YOU GUYS IS PLAYING A GAME UP TO ELECTION TIME.THE CRIMINAL THAT PUT PM IN POWER HE DON’T WANT TO TOUCH RITE NOW HE NEED THEM.WHATS UP WITH THE AGREEMENT WITH GUATAMALA?YOU COULDN’T WORK THAT OUT ,BUT U R READY FOR A DICTATOR GOB.THE JUDGES ARE SLEEPING THEY SHOULD ALL GO ON STRIKE SHUT THE COUNTRY DOWN MY PEOPLE.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    EVERY BELIZEAN NEEDS TO OWN A COPY OF THE CONSTITUTION and A BIBLE…….

    THEY ARE BOTH OPEN TO INTERPRETATION………..SO LET IT BE……….

  4. Elgin Martinez says:

    Let’s stop lamenting on this law.Why not bring a referendum on the death penalty can’t you all see that the Belizean Citizens are living in fear?People are been slaughtered while you the politicians keep bsing.Maybe we should put Barrow in Mubark’s cage to get some common sense.

  5. ang says:

    All kind of things we neva saw b4 happening all over the world people of Belize need to work together, listen to what the people say!

  6. reatph says:

    WHAT WAS HE DOING IN ISRAEL????????????????????????????????????

  7. CEO says:

    First of all I am disappointed in the comment that Sedi made regarding judges because even though they are human and we all have our biases but they have training and we can only hope that with the training and experience they can rule beyond their biases. I would hope that their judgement would be based soley on the evidence before them. To hear a minister of gevernment say a statement like this equates a judge with with anyone with out training.

    My second point: then if there are sections or paragraphs in the constitution that already allows this already when do we need more of this mess? Why not gravitate towards repealing those bad laws and replace them with more progressive ideas? Why go further down that rocky road?

    The courts of a country should always be opened for judicial review of every situation so every citizen of that country if not for every human being in their jurisdiction. We must also have faith that those that are entrusted with such responsibility would afford us the justice (with some mercy added) we all deserve.

    I suported you on your last statement about our boarders being man made but you came up short this time!

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