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Feb 14, 2013

Oceana wants to appeal Referendum case

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Oceana Belize has applied for permission to appeal the dismissal of their case against the Chief Elections Officer (C.E.O.) and the Governor General (G.G.) on the basis of a technicality. In the original case, Oceana sought judicial review of the decision of the C.E.O. to disqualify eight thousand and forty-seven petition signatures collected as part of the referendum petition drive which asked the G.G. to issue an order for a referendum to determine whether or not Belizeans support the government’s decision to allow offshore oil exploration and drilling.  The government’s attorney, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow applied to have the case struck out on the basis that it was not filed on time. News Five spoke to Oceana Belize Vice President Audrey Matura Shepherd about the merits of the appeal.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, VP, Oceana Belize

“After we got the perfected order, we had twenty-one days to appeal. But it is not an automatic appeal; what you need to do is get permission from the court to appeal the decision. So we applied for permission last week and we got notice this week that the matter will be heard on April eighteenth of this year. And what is going to happen is the same judge who made the decision, we need to go back to Madam Justice Arana and say we would like permission to appeal your decision. And it can go two ways; she can say yes, you get permission and we go to court of appeal and they will hear the appeal. Or she can say no, I don’t give you permission and we can appeal that decision as well and that can go two ways as well. The court of Appeal might say we do grant you the appeal against her decision or we don’t grant you the decision. Of course we are taking the matter because if we wouldn’t feel we would have the chance of winning this appeal, we wouldn’t. And the beauty about the process that live in, the legal system we live in, we have these different processes that you can go; that you can exhaust to feel—you need to have that sense of comfort that you’ve exhausted all that process and justice was served. So we are going through the process and many Belizeans don’t know that’s how the court system works. We make it very public because the case is one of national importance. The jurisprudence that will come out of it is very important as more and more citizens are litigating against the state.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“What do you believe were the strengths in your case?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well in the actual case that we were doing that was to go to judicial review that has not been heard, I really wouldn’t want to discuss that because we still hope that we will go to judicial review because we are only appealing the decision that the case was struck out. And it was not struck out on its merits. It was struck out because the way fourteen days was interpreted. The other side said fourteen days meant the very day the judge said yes, I give you permission. And we are saying no, according to the law, it means fourteen days after you get the order, the actual official order.”

 

Oceana Belize was joined in the case by the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, Tom Greenwood and Audrey Bradley. The application to appeal the matter is scheduled to be heard on April eighteenth.

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2 Responses for “Oceana wants to appeal Referendum case”

  1. Storm says:

    I hope the appeal is permitted, because the underlying case is important — was the law broken in selling offshore oil drilling licenses? A serious case like that should be decided on the merits, not because a lawyer might have missed a deadline. We may all be the losers if the appeal is denied.

  2. Belizean says:

    Nonesense nonesense and more nonesense

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