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May 16, 2012

NGO explains why COLA and Coalition jump on to claim

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

As for the application for COLA and the Coalition to become interested parties in the case, Crown Counsel Herbert Panton, holding over for Crown Counsel Nigel Hawke on behalf of the ministry, indicated to Justice Oswell Legall that they strongly object to the applications. Panton requested additional time to review the case and has until May twenty-third to file affidavits supporting their objections. Justice Legall will hear those arguments on June seventh and is expected to make a decision that same day. If COLA and the Coalition are allowed to join the case, Matura-Shepherd says they bring a lot to the table.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana Belize

“When we initially started the proceeding, Oceana filed the application on the twenty-first of December last year. We knew that we had to do it because it was one of the issues that I had been saying publicly long before telling people that these contracts were violated and when push comes to shove we would go to the court and so we decided to go to the courts. COLA wants to come on board because they are a grassroots organization and honestly, Giovanni who is from COLA, was one of the first persons pushing the issue. So they feel that in a way of support they should be onboard and that they have a lot to offer to the case. The coalition, as you know represents over thirty-six organizations, so while each organization would have wanted to come onboard individually, it would have been cumbersome. But because they are an umbrella organization, they’re saying let us come as one unit and come forward. The issue with the coalition, it took a while for them to come to a decision because, of course when you’re managing over thirty-six members you have to consult a lot and get a vote and pass a resolution and stuff like that. But the timing is right because this is our second case management appearance at court and so this was the right time to have the application presented to the court.”


The applications for COLA and the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage were presented by Attorney Godfrey Smith, who has requested that both be heard jointly in the interest of time.

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