The following article was from The Reporter Newspaper.
BTL loses round 2
Belize Telecommunications Limited suffered another setback in the Supreme Court this week, when Justice George Meerabux ruled to further extend his injunction against the company.
The injunction bars BTL from placing restrictions on the use of its Internet service, and further bars the company from blocking the importation of electronic devices (notably the I.P.Star) which can enhance consumer use and enjoyment of the Internet.
This week's ruling extends the life of the injunction until the conflicting claims can be settled in court. The matter is expected to come before Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh on Wednesday, November 15.
BTL claims that it has an exclusive license to operate both telephone and Internet services in and over Belize, to the exclusion of everything and everybody else.
In his written judgement extending the injunction last week Justice Meerabux examined this claim by BTL when he wrote:
"In exercising my discretion in granting this injunction, I had to consider the additional issue of whether the exclusive telecommunications license enjoyed by the defendant (BTL) constitutes not only an interference with the enshrined constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, but can be justified in the public interest...
He proceeded to say: "I find that the alleged transgressions or trespassing of any one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Belize, which is the Supreme and paramount law, requires urgent action.
" We should not procrastinate and fall asleep on alleged breaches of these sacred rights on the body politic of Belize.
" The price of freedom is eternal vigilance in pursuing the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech...
Upholding the Court's injunction, Justice Meerabux wrote:
" I find that the issue of freedom of expression and freedom of speech are questions of public interest and are crucial factors to be considered... I find that the length of the injunction was fully justified in the circumstances. For these reasons the application to discharge the injunction is refused".
The second round of this high stakes game will come when Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh takes up the substantive case next week, and weighs the constitutional arguments which will be raised against the claim of BTL to exclusive domain over the Internet.
[This message has been edited by Sandcrab (edited 11-10-2000).]