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Dec 14, 2022

Major Gilbert Swazo Officially Appointed New Ombudsman

Eamon Courtenay

Belize has been without an Ombudsman since April 2021, when Lionel Arzu demitted that office. The role of the Ombudsman is to receive and investigate complaints by people who feel that they have been wronged or have sustained injury or abuse by an authority. The role of the Ombudsman is especially important for people who have no access to attorneys or funds to pay an attorney to look into their situation. But as of January 2023, the post will be filled by retired Major H. Gilbert Swazo. During the Senate’s proceedings, Leader of Government Business, Senator Eamon Courtenay rose to officially make the announcement.


Senator Eamon Courtenay, Leader of Government Business

“The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting on the recommendations of both houses of the National Assembly, contained in resolutions passed in that behalf, and whereas both houses of the National Assembly intend to advise the Governor-General to appoint Major Herman Gilbert Swazo (retired) as Ombudsman for a period of three years with effect from first January, 2023, and whereas Major Herman Gilbert Swazo (retired) is sixty-one years of age and falls within that age limit prescribed by the Ombudsman Act, and whereas Major Herman Gilbert Swazo fulfills the requirements for appointment of the Office of Ombudsman as prescribed in the Ombudsman Act, and whereas Section sixty-one A, two – C and three of the Belize Constitution provide that the Ombudsman can only be validly appointed with the prior approval of the Senate, now therefore be it resolved that this honourable Senate, being satisfied that Major Herman Gilbert Swazo is a fit and proper person to be appointed as Ombudsman, hereby approves that the said Major Herman Gilbert Swazo be appointed as Ombudsman for a period of three years with effect from the first January, 2023.”


While Senators Moses Benguche for the Churches and Erica Jang and Collet Montejo for the P.U.P. supported the appointed of Major Swazo, Senator Jones questioned whether consideration was given to anyone else on grounds that the government has previously appointed retired public servants to posts that he believes can be filled by young, qualified ones. Senator for the N.G.O. community, Janelle Chanona, in expressing support in the appointment of an Ombudsman, also reiterated the importance that the office holds and expressed hope that Major Swazo will rise to the occasion to the task and meet the expectations and the requirements of the role.


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