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Jul 16, 2021

Youth Leader Says No to Eleventh Amendment

Dominique Noralez

The controversial Eleventh Amendment is drafted from similar laws that were passed in the United Kingdom back in the eighties. The Representation of the People Act 1981 disqualifies anyone who has been convicted of an offence and has been sentenced to be imprisoned or detained for more than a year. The amended Representation of the People Act 1983 also disqualifies anyone who has been convicted or has been reported guilty of a corrupt or illegal electoral practice or of an offence relating to donations (campaign contributions).  Notwithstanding the clear language in that piece of legislation which has been adopted by Belizean lawmakers, there is growing opposition to the Eleventh Amendment and many contend that it does not allow for true reform.  News Five spoke with one youth leader earlier today who holds strong views against it.


Dominique Noralez, CARICOM Youth Leader

“I characterize the amendment as very problematic.  I don’t think that in any space or time of Belize’s constitution that it has ever been applied equitably, and so naturally, people who are more sought after by the law, who live in certain social situations, socioeconomic situations, will definitely feel the brunt of this law and it speaks towards what I call perpetual punishment.  For a year, being in prison for whatever reason because the law doesn’t speak to any specific crime, it just says twelve months imprisonment.  So that, I think, is very problematic.”


Isani Cayetano

“If not for the current Leader of the Opposition who feels as if though this is aimed squarely, what do you believe would be the adverse effect of this on anyone else who has either served the twelve months and has since set out to reform his or her life and now wants to participate as a councilor or as an area representative?”


Dominique Noralez

“Well first of all, I think it’s larger than the current Leader of the Opposition, it’s not about him.  It’s just not about him and I think for me, because I come from a certain background and I know how the law has been cracking the whip against people who come from places that I come from, who look like me, who sound like me, who have a certain skin color as me, I think it definitely tells people that, you know, you cannot make a mistake.  You cannot learn how to be a good citizen.  I don’t think anybody is born a good citizen, I think we learn how to be good citizens.  Some of us are born into more difficult situations that make us feel like we only have certain options and of course we grow and we learn and we become better, but this law tells me that we can never become better, that you are going to be perpetually punished for a mistake you have made.  If I get fined with eleven grams of weed right now, I could go da jail fu three years at the discretion of whatever judge meets me in the courtroom.  That is problematic because I cannot make a mistake.  I cannot stand beside this amendment, for whatever reason.”

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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