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Dec 20, 2012

Oceana’s case struck out on a technicality

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

There was a disappointing decision for Oceana, Audrey Marie Bradley and Thomas Greenwood in the referendum case against the government today. The case was taken to the court because eight thousand signatures were disallowed in the petition to trigger a referendum on offshore drilling in February. After a number of adjournments, attorneys for the government, Denys Barrow and Naima Barrow, made submissions to have the case struck out based on a technicality by Justice Michelle Arana. Oceana’a VP says while government won this battle, the war is not over.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana Belize

“Unfortunately, the ruling did not go in our favor. What happened, we had already gotten permission from the court to go to judicial review. That’s a hurdle in itself to be able to cross. We were successful with that before justice Arana and that was a decision given on June twentieth. The attorney on our side, Mr. Godfrey Smith was ordered to prepare the draft order, which is a written order saying what was decided which he did and he did that on the twenty-sixth of June. And counting from the twenty-sixth of June, he began counting fourteen days. We had fourteen days to submit the full—file our claim. We met that fourteen days, however, the government disputed that and is saying, no the fourteen days began counting from the twentieth. So it was really on a technically as to when really the fourteen days start. We were saying it not being an oral decision from the bench, but really a decision in which there should be a draft order to comply with the formalities and so our fourteen days began when we got that sealed by the court, registered at the court and everything. But the Judge ruled against us and said no the order started from the day on the bench when she said okay, permission is granted. So that’s of course a major setback because while it is about a case, this is beyond that. This is the referendum case we’re talking about. This is the case where on the twenty-fifth of April the prime minister told us, people if you feel that something is of national importance, go to the people, get their petitions signed and bring it to us. And they have found every way—it’s unfortunate that they know that only on a technicality they could have won this. On the merits of the case, hands down no matter what any court rules, public opinion is against them and for us; it’s not the end of the issue. This issue is beyond just this case.  Definitely, this is also the opportune time for us to revisit the referendum act. I mean, we can’t have politicians make promises with one hand and with the other hand, slap it out of our mouths. Two things will happen; we will definitely call on the prime minister to fulfill his promise. Remember the second of March, 2012 after the people’s referendum; I want to quote what the prime minister said. He said “I personally would be prepared to support the government sponsoring the referendum—talking about the offshore oil referendum—to be held at an appropriate time after we have held a full throttle debate during which people will not just hear from one side.” I’m calling on the prime minister now to fulfill his promise and this is the ideal time; there will be a Belize/Guatemala referendum in 2013. Previously he said it was too expensive, this is the opportune time for him to man up and show the people that he’s not afraid to take this issue to referendum. So we will be going in that direction and of course there are many other things we’ll be looking at and of course there’s always the possibility that we will be appealing the decision given in court today.”


There is another case before the courts on oil drilling in which Oceana is challenging the government on six concessions that it says do not meet legal requirements.

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3 Responses for “Oceana’s case struck out on a technicality”

  1. subKonshus says:

    Isn’t it kinda disturbing that since the PM’s Ex-Wife is no longer the attorney for the GOB, his brother and other family members are still being utilized to handle million dollar cases for the GOB, when we still have a DPP office staffed with abled attorneys? One would think that only the Barrows have brains.

  2. Moses Sulph says:

    This is teh reason why I said before even though many say Mr. MacAfee is crazy he very much right when he said the justice system in Belize is tainted, The Judge could have use descression on the matter of when the time actually begin, Then again The Judiciary is controled by the executive Government… The only referandum a oppressive and corrupted government will respect is people taking it to the democratic process of agressive demonstration….

  3. Marie says:

    I thought she said she would win in due course-stop talking so much and read how to file a case properly.

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