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May 24, 2019

Amendment to the Maritime Areas Act is Soon to be Law

The revised Maritime Areas Act in which Belize is reclaiming all twelve miles of its territorial waters under international law is complete, following the Governor General’s approval of the amended piece of legislation on Wednesday.  The GG’s assent was the final phase in a three-step process that began on Monday with a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives.  During that meeting a bill was introduced and passed after three consecutive readings and on Tuesday, the Senate also supported the bill unanimously.  According to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, what’s left is for the papers to be gazetted and the I.C.J. will then be informed of Belize’s position on going ahead with the adjudication of the territorial dispute with Guatemala.


Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

“The bill went to the House, it was passed by the house, after that the procedure is that it goes to the Senate and the Senate also passed the bill, pretty much unanimously.  After that, the National Assembly puts the record together, sends it over to the Attorney General which is myself and then I prepare a report, a legal report for the Governor General, telling the Governor General that everything is in order.  The Governor General then chooses to assent at that point.  The Senate meeting was Tuesday, we sent that over Wednesday and that very same day the Governor General assented.  So the Governor General having assented, the matter is, the papers are sent back to the National Assembly who then sent it to Print Belize for it to come out in the next issue of the gazette.  So the Governor General has assented and so whatever amendment we pass in the House and Senate has now been assented to and passed as law by the Governor General.”


Isani Cayetano

“Is there a timeline now for when all of what has taken place is communicated to the I.C.J. in terms of the position that Belize has taken to have this territorial claim adjudicated?”


Michael Peyrefitte

“Well it’s not necessarily a timeline but we will do it immediately.  I expect that if we haven’t taken steps to do that already certainly by next week all of that information will be sent to the I.C.J. telling that of course we have voted for going to the ICJ after the referendum.  The people voted yes we’re going, and so they now know that we will be having a case since Guatemala had already indicated that they voted yes and they’re going.  So Guatemala has a year after when we send in our indication that we are prepared to go to the court.  Guatemala then has a year to get their memorials, their case ready.  They will send up their affidavits, their cases, their laws, whatever.  They have a year to do that.  We have up to a year to respond to that and then Guatemala can respond to our response and then we can respond to that.  So you’re looking at about four or five years before this matter is heard before the I.C.J.”

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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