American Bar Association considers rule of law in Belize
At the end of this week, the Supreme Court begins its summer recess. As it heads into its six week break, uncertainty and instability are hanging over the Justice sector. The PM and the Bar Association are still publicly at odds over the process of appointing the next Chief Justice. Last week, the government advertised the job in the local papers to replace current CJ, Abdulai Conteh. The most senior judge in line was last year confronted by the Bar for delays in the delivery of his judgments. Another judge on secondment from the Commonwealth Secretariat will be departing Belize at the end of the year. Last week the Bar objected to the contents of an article authored by the Solicitor General, Oscar Ramjeet, on the retirement of the CJ. The article was circulated in media outlets in the Caribbean and the Bar corrected what it noted were inaccuracies coming from the SolGen. The new Attorney General, BQ Pitts, has been completely silent about any plans for the judiciary. Then there is Elizabeth Purcell, an English barrister handpicked to lead prosecutions in the new fast-track court, who abruptly returned to England last week. The worsening state of affairs in the criminal justice sector and the perception of executive interference in the judiciary have apparently gotten the attention of the United States. There is a report that the American Bar Association is considering a Rule of Law Initiative in Belize and is currently advertising for a country director. Details on what all is involved in this initiative are still sketchy, but we’ll follow-up.http://edition.channel5belize.com/?p=36163
-------------------------------On a personal note, I both know BQ Pitts and Abdulai Conteh personally. I am dismayed to read this article because Bernard Pitts (although I admire him) is partially deaf (both physically and mentally). He has no more logical judgment as he has been out of society for years. The only reason to appoint him is because he is the partner of Sedi Elrington.
Abdulai Conteh is still a vital man with two legs in society and a "Salomon Justice" sense. Unfortunately he is not very conveniently for our PM, Dean Barrow (note that I didn't mention UDP!).