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Apr 20, 2015

Attorney Eamon Courtenay Says Life Imprisonment Without Parole is Unconstitutional

Gregory August

The basis for the legal challenge, according to Courtenay, is the constitutionality of the court’s decision to incarcerate August for the remainder of his life.  Equally, the case against August was based solely on the use of circumstantial evidence, a point of interest for Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, who did not disagree with the decision to apply for special leave.


Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Gregory August

“The constitutional issue is, as you know, Section Seven of the Constitution [of Belize] says that no person should be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  Now here is a young man in his twenties who has been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  The reason for a sentence is one, deterrence; two, to ensure that the person pays his debt to society but also to allow that person to reform himself or herself.  Now, if you do not have the chance of coming out of prison, even if you change your life, even if you have served twenty years, even if you are a good and model prisoner, the question is what purpose is your continued imprisonment serving?  And we say that it is unconstitutional, it is cruel and inhuman to send somebody to prison who has changed his or her life and completely reformed, completely rehabilitated himself or herself but can’t get out.  The Belize Advisory Council rules, Section Fifty-Two of the constitution and the parole rules do not provide any avenues for Mister August to change his life, to reform himself and to come out of prison.  So we are saying that that is unconstitutional and that is what we will be arguing before the Court of Appeal.”


Eamon Courtenay

Isani Cayetano

“What is the significance of this case seeing as though its the first appeal of a criminal nature to the Caribbean Court of Justice?”


Eamon Courtenay

“Well, as you know, the Director of Public Prosecutions did not oppose the grant of a special leave and one of the reasons for that is, as I understand it, is that in her opinion the law as it is on circumstantial evidence needs to be clarified and therefore she is hoping that because this case was dealt with solely on circumstantial evidence that we will get some clarity from the CCJ on circumstantial evidence.  Then of course there’s the new constitutional point which is the Section Seven point that I just discussed.  So at least on these two areas the CCJ will give guidance and clarification to all our courts as the law on circumstantial evidence and minimum/mandatory life imprisonment without parole.”



“The appeal is only on the sentence…”


Eamon Courtenay

“Oh no, only on conviction.  We think that he was wrongly convicted and that’s what they have given us special leave for, to challenge the conviction.”


A notice of appeal must be filed within thirteen days of today’s decision. As we said, the CCJ would continue to sit through Thursday. 

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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3 Responses for “Attorney Eamon Courtenay Says Life Imprisonment Without Parole is Unconstitutional”

  1. Al says:

    A killer is a killer. If he could kill someone for some stupid issue, he should be willing to pay the price, even if it is life in prison. What I would like to see is the death penalty put on the table to be used. I bet that if death penalty was a part of the punishment package these cowards who stands behind a gum would think twice.

    I would like to see these coward heartless bastards wet their pants before dying. Something has to change to stop this senseless killing spree. Where are the law makers, too busy figuring out their next legal robberry of the country’s coffers which they use for self edification of wealth.

  2. Henry Dueck says:

    Eamon Courtney is being properly compensated for lobbying on the EU’s behalf

  3. CEO says:

    Ok then lock him up for 40 or 50 years.

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