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Aug 11, 2023

Is Eleventh Amendment Dangerous for Democracy?

Glenfield Dennison

The provision to disqualify anyone having served more than twelve months in prison in or outside of Belize is seen as a move to prevent the Leader of the Opposition, Shyne Barrow, from running for office in the next general elections.   Earlier today, News Five caught up with Vice Chairperson of the Peoples’ Constitution Commission, Glenfield Dennison at an educational session at Price Barracks in Ladyville. He was asked to give his take on the proposed Eleventh Amendment to the constitution. He did so as a private citizen, not as vice chairperson of the PCC. Dennison says that the amendment is dangerous for our democracy.


Glenfield Dennison, Private Citizen

“I think it is an important issue that should be answered. I am not going to answer it as the vice chair of the Peoples’ Constitution Commission because the statute mandate of the commission is clear and in that capacity, I am unable to comment on the government’s ability to pass constitution amendments while we are going through a reform process. That is the government’s prerogative and they can do that if they so choose. That is a legislative function and the PCC itself has been given a mandate by statute to record the views of the people and make a report. So having given that proviso, I would say as a private citizen of Belize, I am very concerned about this particular constitution amendment. I phrase it as the Shyne Barrow amendment. Of course, arguments would be made that it isn’t, but I am going to appeal to the powers that be to let reason prevail. It is a very slippery slope we can slide down if we allow our democracy or the House of Representatives to be used in a way that can be seen as us having an immature democracy and where the eyes of the world would be looking at us to see if we would actually disqualify or try to disqualify a sitting member of the House of Representatives and more importantly, the Leader of the Opposition. That to my mind is anti-democratic and should be looked at with great scrutiny. I am confident that the social partners will play a pivotal role in that and the public should have their minds open to the ramification of it and we see where it goes from there.”

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