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Nov 29, 2023

Leader of the Opposition Supports Crown Counsels’ Position

Moses Shyne Barrow

The Leader of the Opposition also touched on the sick-out that Crown Counsels reportedly staged on Monday, as well an audit of the D.P.P.’s office, which highlighted some of the issues among the Crown Counsels who work there. Chief among them is the concern that there is a lack of safety and security for witnesses and Crown Counsels, as well as a salary adjustment that should have been done from the time of the previous administration.


Moses Shyne Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“What the Crown Councils are asking for are not unreasonable suggestions. Two suggestions they made. One is to do a treaty with our CARICOM nations so that we can exchange witnesses, so that a witness testifying in a murder case here in Belize that is fearful of his or her life could go to Jamaica or St. Lucia, or come here – in exchange for witnesses in St. Lucia and Jamaica coming here. The other recommendation was to create witness protection villages in the south or in the north or far away where no one can get to them and if they do get to them, they’ll have to go through great security fortifications in order to breach that. But again, these things aren’t happening, so what you have is a bunch of arrests, and I am told reliably by sources within the DPP that the majority of murder cases and violent crime cases are discontinued. The message coming from the crown counsels, which is why they’re doing these sick-outs is that the criminal justice system is broken because they can’t get convictions because they can’t protect their witnesses. The crown counsels, they have been doing a sick out for quite some time, which was triggered by a myriad of things – security, concerns. Again, you have certain crown counsels that are on the frontline prosecuting the more heinous murders from the most notorious murderers and they have no security detail. There wasn’t even security at the DPP’s office. They want to overhaul an already underfunded judiciary, and rather than strengthen it as it is, they want to turn it into the Eastern Caribbean model. Now, the Chief Justice comes in and says she needs legal assistance, lawyers, and they come in at $72,000, while the Prime Minister went on national television and said that our crown councils are unqualified or are not that good because we can’t afford to pay them. That’s how he feels about our legal officers, and rather than pay them more so that they would not be demoralized, so that they would be encouraged so that they’d be prepared to risk their lives as they are doing in these murder cases and these violent crime cases and these drug cases, they acceded to the Chief Justice’s request  for legal assistance starting at $72,000 when there’s a 17 percent salary adjustment which is legally owed to the Crown Counsels.”


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