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Apr 12, 2019

The Issue of Section Three; Briceño and Barrow Weigh In

One of the main concerns expressed by the Opposition Party is Section Three of the referendum bill.  That section states that “a referendum shall be held to enable electors to vote on whether the Government of Belize should, in accordance with the Special Agreement and the Protocol to the Special Agreement, request the International Court of Justice to determine in accordance with applicable rules of international law’ declare the rights of both parties.” The Opposition interprets it to give the I.C.J. powers to change the borders of Belize, which are clearly defined in the constitution. But Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that the I.C.J. is to determine the rights of both parties as specified in article thirty-eight-one of the statutes of the court.


John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of Opposition

“The concern that we have with this piece of legislation is that we were coming here fully ready to support the holding of the referendum if it was done under the previous referendum. If the referendum would have been called under the correct section – Section 21A – which is to come to the House to say that we have an issue of national importance and then we have the debate over the referendum. We had already agreed on Wednesday, as a parliament, as a caucus, that we were going to support that section, Madam Speaker, if the Prime Minister would have come to correct what the Chief Justice told him to fix. We were going to support it. But lo and behold, the Prime Minister then comes less than twenty fours later the following day and gives us a new bill. That changes the entire rules of the game. How can you expect us to come right here and say yes to something that we know is wrong, Madam Speaker?


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow 

“A great deal has been made of the fact on both sides that the Special Agreement limits the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to article thirty-eight one which provides that from deciding on this matter on any basis other than the applicable norms of international law and the applicable treaties including and principally the 1859 Treaty which is the treaty that enshrines our boundaries; which is the treat that enshrines Belizean rights and which is the treaty that makes us feel so confident that our case before the I.C.J. is unassailable. But, my point is, Madam Speaker, this section three is absolutely central to the bill.”

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