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Jun 18, 2008

Court of Appeal ruling on referendum appeal set for Friday

Story PictureLois Young was also busy today as she was part of proceedings in the Court of Appeal. Young is asking the high court to grant her leave to appeal the Chief Justice’s decision to grant judicial review on the proposed amendments to the Referendum Act. Viewers will recall that the C.J. denied that same application by Young earlier this month. But the attorney says the Government is simply using this application to cover all its bases.

Lois Young, Attorney, A.G.
“Why not, exercising your rights that’s all. Why not?”

Janelle Chanona
“I noticed yesterday that one of the justices pointed out that this may be an academic exercise, a dry run. How did you respond?”

Lois Young
“What it would do if they were to hear the appeal—which they haven’t even heard the appeal—this is an application for leave to appeal. What the government wants to do is to preserve its position. You have only a certain time within which to appeal and so the government wants to ensure that it’s within the twenty-one days.”

Janelle Chanona
“And how does this factor in that the substantive issue might probably appear before the appeal?”

Lois Young
“Well, if the substantive issue comes up as it’s scheduled to come on time then that’s fine; we’ll deal with it. But in my experience we’ve had cases set down for trial and at the last moment they’ve been adjourned and months go by before they are heard.”

Janelle Chanona
“So this is an in case application.”

Lois Young
“Yes”

But according to Anthony Sylvestre, the attorney representing the citizens’ group objecting to the changes in the Referendum Act, the Government’s attempt to have the C.J.’s injunction lifted has an ulterior motive.

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney, Citizens’ Group
“Our claim rests on the existing Referendum Act which by section two subsection A provides that if an issue affecting our constitutional right arises then the government should actually have a referendum held. That is the source of our claim and that is the basis of our claim. With the amendment to the Referendum Act, that specific section is being taken out. It’s being repealed, it’s being deleted. So that means if the that if the injunction is lifted then the referendum amendment act will come into force then when we go back into court and argue the matter the judge will say well I can’t make an order because that specific section that you are asking us to use is no more. It’s not law again. That is why I think the government wishes to have everything be dispensed with right here as opposed to waiting until the thirtieth, which is only twelve days away, and have the substantive matter be heard before the Chief Justice.”

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the matter until Friday. In related news, we note that effective today through Sunday, Senior Counsel Lois Young will be acting as Attorney General. Young told us today that the appointment is only a constitutional necessity to help out in the Ministry while the A.G. is out of the country. Wilfred Elrington and Prime Minister Dean Barrow left Belize today to participate in the New York conference on the Caribbean along with other CARICOM leaders. In the P.M.’s absence minister Gaspar Vega will serve as acting prime minister.


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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