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Oct 30, 2008

Bowen/Landowners Assn. vs G.O.B. case continues

Story PictureThe case of businessman Barry Bowen and the Landowners Association Limited against the Government of Belize continued in its third day in court. Bowen and the Landowners Association are challenging government’s proposal to amend the Belize constitution which, if passed, would deny protection from deprivation of property or acquisition rights and the right to access the courts by citizens. Attorney Eamon Courtney is representing Bowen and Dickie Bradley is appearing for the Landowners Association. Courtney wrapped up his arguments yesterday and today Bradley made submissions to the court. When the case adjourned this afternoon, both Bradley and Courtney said that attorney for the government Lois Young, in their opinion, made a serious error in her arguments today.

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Barry Bowen
“Today we heard from Mr. Bradley on behalf of Mr. Roberts and the landowners; Belize Landowners Association. He made his submissions arguing that the proposed amendments are unconstitutional. And then Ms. Young, on behalf of the Attorney General, has started her submissions. She started this morning and continued for the whole of this afternoon. As you can imagine, the landowners very strongly oppose the amendment.”

Dickie Bradley, Attorney for Landowners Association
“Our arguments were that it is that it is old school to suggest to the court that as long as you follow section sixty-nine, meaning you have the majority and you wait the ninety days, you can do what you want with the constitution of Belize. We had drawn on cases coming from the Privy council, which is our court, to show that no, section sixty-eight of the Belize Constitution says you can make laws but subject to this constitution; not some provision, not to section sixty-nine. So you can’t, as is being attempted by the government, amend section seventeen (1), which affords every Belizean the right to access the court. You cannot remove that without breaching a fundamental principle of the constitution guaranteed as one of the fundamental rights that Belizeans have. So we have argued that position using recent cases coming out of the Privy Council and falling back on cases coming out of mama Africa. You guys missed out on drama today. Lois Young called Barrow called Ivan Roberts, who is the secretary of the Landowners Association but who is also a claimant in his own right. He claims that he has oil under his land and the Chief Justice was pointing out that it is not normal in constitutional matters to call a witness. But she wanted to challenge Ivan Roberts. She made a big error in calling Ivan Roberts. She had to throw up her hands and sit down and tell the Chief Justice I can’t get what I want out of this witness.”

Ivan Roberts, Secretary, Landowners Association
“She was questioning whether there was oil on my property or not. The point is that there is, never delay well number one, which is one hundred feet away from my boundaries and the oil doesn’t come out of a coca-cola bottle; it’s in a reservoir. The mere fact that it is one hundred feet from my boundary says that it flows beneath my land and not only my land; there’s about eight or ten of us whose land, within an eighty acre radius, that oil is. There is never delay well number two which is some eighty acres away from my land where they’ve also found oil. So it tells you that the oil is not just where they bore the whole, it’s in a reservoir. And that’s what she was trying to deny, that there’s oil on my land, but she can’t.”

Closing arguments in this landmark case continue at ten tomorrow morning.

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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