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Sep 19, 2011

Awich says PM’s No is not evidence; 13th Senator still a dream

Anthony Sylvestre

In its 2008 manifesto, the United Democratic Party promised a senate that would be comprised of thirteen members. The thirteenth seat would go to the Non Governmental Organizations. Since taking office, however, the U.D.P. government has not enforced Section Seven of the Sixth Amendment requiring the appointment of Greg Ch’oc of Sattiim, who the NGOs elected as the thirteenth senator. The power of the senate would have shifted with number thirteen but in August 2010, the PM made it abundantly clear that he would not enforce the amendment. And that sprung Belizeans for Justice along with other NGOs into action. A suit followed and the ruling was handed down today by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Awich. Even though, the PM gave an interview saying he wouldn’t, Awich didn’t believe it was evidence and it is still up to the Prime Minister to decide when he will enforce the amendment. He then instructed Belizeans for Justice and not the other NGO affiliates to pay the costs of court. After the lengthy ruling, Anthony Sylvester was clearly baffled in light of the evidence presented in court.

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney, Belizeans for Justice

“There are certain things that really and truly are still quite unclear. For my part and you’re in Court, the Justice indicated that notwithstanding the Prime Minister said in a public interview several times that he would never bring the act into force; that that was not sufficient evidence to show that he would never bring the act into force. He also went to paints to point out that reliance on the television news report is not really in this day and age; he frowned on that.”

Reporter

“Well he did take a swipe at the media, but he also scolded the NGO for what he thought was irresponsible. He thought that the NGO should have had written the prime minister and approach the Prime Minister in question and take a performer.”

Anthony Sylvestre

“I take that point of the judge, but it was not once but on several occasions that the Prime Minister had indicated this, but we don’t want to go in a back and forth. But what is of interest is that the learned trial judge indicated that we have twenty-one days within which to appeal, so it seems to be an indication that we ought to appeal.”

Aaron Humes, Amandala Press

“Regardless of the whole question of appealing, what does your client intend to do in terms of getting this matter raised in the National Assembly as suggested by the Chief Justice since it is not a matter for the Courts in his opinion?”

Anthony Sylvestre

“Well you see you would have realized that the NGOs that’s their whole purpose and basis—they prefer to remain out of the political fray. As it presently stands there is only one of two political parties who would be able to raise the issue. So it did or would in a sense put the NGO in a certain predicament that they would have to align themselves with a political party to advance this manifesto pledge to have a NGO be seated in the senate which seems to defy the whole purpose of a thirteenth senator.”

Reporter

“So for the time being this law remains on the constitution of Belize. This amendment to the constitution is properly written in the constitution—the current editions that are out, but it’s not been enforced because the Prime Minister refuses to sign the statutory instrument. You planning to appeal this decision?”

Anthony Sylvestre

“Well I was just holding brief, but we will have to sit and get instructions from the claimants and the other senior attorneys involved in the matter. But in reference to your question; if anyone listens to it, it sounds rather crazy. But that’s basically the way it is. If you were to pick up a copy of the constitution of Belize as updated of June 2010, you would see those provisions in the constitution, but they haven’t come into force.”

It is not known if an appeal will be filed by the NGOs.

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2 Responses for “Awich says PM’s No is not evidence; 13th Senator still a dream”

  1. CEO says:

    Why don’t we start electing senators just the way we do our area reps instead of appointing them?

    This would add more legitimacy to the office and them seen less as rubber stamps for whichever PM is in power. A super majority of the senators should also need to vote on any law before it becomes effective.

  2. Higher Level says:

    There was a referendum in the 2008 general elections for the implementation of an elected senate. When the UDP came to power they disregarded the referendum results and instead said that they would implement the expanded senate. Now they refuse to fulfill their campaign manifesto pledge. Aigh what a bunch of scoundrels!

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