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Oct 3, 2011

Bar Association Int’l Consultants disagree with 9th Amendment

Albert K. Fiadjoe

The Bar Association of Belize earlier today released two international legal opinions on the constitutionality of the ninth amendment Bill.  These opinions were procured by the Bar acting in conjunction with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and the Human Rights Commission of Belize. The opinions came from Professor Albert Fiadjoe, an expert on Caribbean constitutional law and Professor Peter Gerangelos of the University of Sydney, Australia and author of a book on Legislative Interference in the Judicial Process. Fiadjoe’s opinion is contained in twenty-six pages. He finds that there are “powerful reasons why the Government’s resolve to turn the legal evolution of Belize on its head …must not be allowed to happen.” Among the reasons listed is that the Ninth amendment: will take away citizens’ access to the courts, Separation of Powers will be overthrown for good and parliament will be left with uncontrolled power with no legal oversight. On the acquisition of Telemedia, he says “the Court of Appeal of Belize held that the acquisition was not made for a lawful purpose and not made in the public interest. That finding is enough to render illegal the intended expropriation.” Fiadjoe recommends that the Bar move the Supreme Court on a constitutional motion for a declaration that the Belize Constitution Ninth Amendment Bill and Statutory Instrument seventy of 2011 are unconstitutional for contravening fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and for an order striking down that SI as well as section two of the Ninth Amendment Bill.

Peter Gerangelos

Gerangelos sees the Ninth amendment as “an attempt by the National Assembly to achieve a particular result in either pending or prospective litigation in which it has an ongoing interest by seeking to remove and/or interfere with the judicial process.” He sees it as attempting to achieve “legislative validation” of the compulsory acquisitions. Gerangelos makes the point that some constitutions require a referendum before they can be amended and that that process is therefore very “democratic”.  He observes that in Belize, however, there is no requirement in the Constitution for a referendum before the Belize Constitution can be amended and therefore there may be a need for the Basic Structure doctrine that protects the important provisions of the constitution from amendment.

With these prestigious international opinions casting serious doubt on the constitutionality of the ninth amendment, it remains to be seen whether the Bar Association will take Fiadjoe’s recommendation that the Ninth Amendment Bill should be challenged in court. A full text of the opinions can be viewed at channel5belize.com.  News Five will also be monitoring whether Friends of Belize will be able to muster the signatures of ten percent of registered voters in order to trigger a referendum before the expiration of ninety-days delay for the Bill to go back to the House.

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13 Responses for “Bar Association Int’l Consultants disagree with 9th Amendment”

  1. Liberty and Freedom says:

    It is up to the citizens of Belize to become informed of their freedoms through the media, Channel 5 and open discussions with people from both sides of the issue. If the 9th Amendment passes so will individual freedom. Read the above article. These are great legal minds that oppose radifying of the 9tyh Amendment.
    Please have an open mind and stand up for your rights. Many political rallies feature money and alcohol – do not sell this country to the Devil for a few bucks or booze….

  2. J.R. Writer says:

    In the end it does not matter what which lawyer says. These two lawyers might both believe that they are correct but what really matters is what the courts would say. As an endnote one also has to remember that whenever anyone goes to court,1 lawyer will say one thing and another will say another thing because a lawyer is hired to advance the position of his client in the hope that the court will rule that the law is on his or client’s side. So one should not read to much into what one legal expert says because it is not authoritative no matter how eminent that jurist may be.

  3. Lindsay Howard says:

    Finally, unbiased validation that the 9th Amendment is an attempt to erode our basic rights, make the legislature the supreme power in Belize and to eliminate separation of powers. Instead of amending the Constitution to add the 9th Amendment, we need to amend it to include a MANDATORY public referendum before the Constitution can be changed. We also need to eliminate the provisions on the crossing the aisle. If we don’t, Belize is headed toward dictatorship.

  4. CEO says:

    This is not a PUP / UDT thing as it has become in the minds of many: this is a Belizean thing! Which ever color you choose to stand under don’t be fooled this is bad news!

    I hope they withdraw this mess for good! How can learned people think to do this to their countrymen? Frankly it is for reasons like this that the country does not progress as it should. When leaders lack vision the people will suffer!

  5. CEO says:

    I meant PUP / UDP

  6. rod says:

    this is just a distraction for this impotent pm and gov. so that people will forget about all the bad things happening in the country , this is the worse pm and gov. in the history of belize and getting worse the whole population of the country doing what they want now since their is no leadership no vision no expectations no hope every aspect of life in belize is dark and bleek and we belizeans keep on like nothing is wrong wake up my belizeans we do not have to put up with this incompetent pm and gov. we are the people we put them in we can take them out belize deserves much much much more than what we are getting for us and our childrens future dont let this pm and gov. distract you from their impotence and ineptness of the worse pm and gov. in the history of belize since this pm and gov. are in power more belizeans have been killed than all the us soldiers killed in afgasnistan now that is truly sad over 500 people murdered since this pm is in power and the carnage continues wake up belizeans start demanding change lord i cayn take it nomoe out barrow guan guan get out.

  7. Darius Martinez says:

    It is time to get rid of the ninth, it is only dividing our people, there are more pressing matters to be addressed, the high rate of poverty, crime, jobs, inequity of the distribution of our wealth, victimisation, and the list goes on.

  8. peter says:

    Gerangelos said “if the Constitution itself provides the mechanism for its own amendment, and if a proposed amendment law is enacted pursuant to that mechanism, then the content of the amendment cannot be challenged. If there is a constitutional challenge, the court is limited only to examining whether the correct amendment procedure was followed.” how is this against GOB?

  9. someone says:

    Preach on, brother Martinez…preach on..hopefully someone will listen

  10. Student Abroad says:

    This is not just a distraction, and anyone that seems to think so is deluded. This issue is arguably far more relevant than people would like to believe. This is one of the many “bad things” occurring in our country. I am not saying that the deaths that have occurred thus far do not matter, but I see no point in blaming these deaths on this government, or any other. It was and is the fault of the persons that committed the murders. Moving on, this Ninth Amendment is a thinly veiled attempt at putting an end to certain freedoms that are necessary to the people. People should read not only this story, but others that look at the Ninth Amendment, and perhaps actually try to read a copy of the bill if they can. Students abroad like myself, especially those of us that are registered voters follow this issue with a sense of trepidation. Whatever happens as a result of this bill being passed or not will affect my decision of returning home or not. Why return to a place where the people’s voice is not considered, or rendered invalid?

  11. belizeanpride says:

    it’s so frustrating that we might voice our point of view and rights through blogging when truly the PM is not even probably reading the news like we do daily. we spend time here throwing our frustration online medias when we should all have a stand still country wide protest so show the gov. that we instead run this country. but it’s a shame that blind political people like benqueno said previously “i don’t care if we understand the 9th amendment keep going with it” that’s why we can’t make a real stand up or uprising than just blog till we’re vex that we might left it alone after all.
    red/blue is no good like the gov. that was runed by the late Rt. Hn G. C. Price where he work for the people but now the gov. want us to work for him to live like a king what an atrocity to our nation.

  12. Alfonso Ozaeta Sr says:

    One is led to wonder what this discussion would look like, if based on a perspective that views the government, not as the leadership, but as an informed, ongoingly engaged, responsible and accountable electorate represented by a leadership they unceasingly monitor. What a disquieting mindset, as to the perception of government, among the minds of the learned appears to be on display here!

  13. Alfonso Ozaeta Sr says:

    One is led to wonder about the perception of government among the minds of the learned in this discussion. What would the character of this discussion be like if the perception of ‘government’ was, not the leadership, but an informed, ongoingly engaged, responsible and accountable electorate and people who continually monitor and hold accountable that leadership? Aside from God, a people in whom the supremacy of authority reside!

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