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#412565 - 07/27/11 09:54 AM Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable
Marty Online   happy

Declaring that “...the government and people must own 51% of the public utilities,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow introduced the Belize Constitution 9th (Amendment) Bill 2011 in the National Assembly on Friday, coming nearly three weeks after the re-nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), and roughly five weeks after the nationalization of the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).

At the time of the July 4, 2011 nationalization of BTL, Barrow announced that he would present a constitutional amendment to enshrine public ownership of the utilities in the hands of the Government and people of Belize. This is the amendment that was presented today, but is being applied only to BTL, BEL and the Belize Water Services Limited, which Government also owns.

The prior nationalization of BTL (2009) was the subject of legal challenges, and now the Barrow administration is introducing a constitutional provision which is aimed at ensuring that the affected property owner(s) can’t go to the courts to reverse the nationalization.

The new provisions of the law emphasize a property owner’s entitlement to compensation, but seek to limit his or her ability to challenge Government’s actions in court.

On Friday, when Barrow tabled the amendment to the Constitution, he said that, “... the new section 145, that clause 4 of this bill also introduces, is designed—and again, we make no apologies for this—to place the nationalization of BEL and BTL beyond dispute.”

The amendment also states that there is no limitation, whether substantive or procedural, on the power of the National Assembly to alter the Belize Constitution and that such law, as long as the law conforms with section 69, won’t be open to challenge in the court.

Barrow added that, “The rights of the previous owners to receive their proper compensation within a reasonable time are expressly preserved and protected.”

On Friday, June 24, 2011, four days after the nationalization of BEL, the Court of Appeal declared the 2009 nationalization of BTL unconstitutional.

The appellants, including Michael Ashcroft’s British Caribbean Bank Limited, had accused the Government of violating section 17(1) of the Belize Constitution, which governs the compulsory taking of property.

Court of Appeal Justice Dennis Morrison had commented that, “It is difficult in examining the Prime Minister’s statement [at the acquisition of BTL], which the Minister deposed contained his reasons, to find a justification for the acquisition in terms of the stated purpose.”

Barrow said in Parliament this Friday that, “...it has always conceded that once we got the drafting right, we were entitled under our democracy to acquire utilities in the public interest. So our nationalization was morally and politically correct, even if legally flawed; and it is a matter of the greatest justice now that we are curing the defects via the supreme law of the land – the Belize Constitution.”

In commenting further on the amendment he introduced to the House Friday, Barrow said, “...there must and can be no turning back of the sovereign ownership of these essential services by the people of Belize...”

Parliament must allow at least 90 days for public consultations before the bill is taken back to the House of Representatives for second reading, debate, and third reading.


#412566 - 07/27/11 09:56 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy


On Friday of last week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow went to the House of Representatives with proposed legislation that seeks to entrench majority ownership and control of public utilities by government into the Constitution. The Belize Constitution Ninth Amendment Bill 2011 is seeking to change Chapter 4 of the laws of Belize to be able to achieve that goal. But public reaction to the proposed constitutional amendment is already drawing heavy criticism and much of that very public scrutiny is coming from the legal profession. Attorneys on both sides of the political divide have been expressing concerns about the proposed changes and the potential threats to people’s fundamental rights that could arise out of such an eventuality. Attorney at law and former Senator Audrey Matura Shepherd was guest on the Love FM Morning Show today and she explained that in her opinion, the recent proposed amendment to the constitution will not only secure nationalization of utilities; but will have far reaching implications for the ordinary Belizeans.

Audrey Matura Shepherd – Attorney/Human Rights Commission
“The problem in Belize is that we have taken for granted the rights we have. The fact that I can come on this show and openly talk without being dragged out to prison as soon as I get out there means that it is part two that gives me that freedom of speech and that freedom and liberty that I am entitled to; to drive here, walk out of here, do everything I want and that is what people need to understand that by amendment 69 even that will be affected or could be affected, not only the one that deals with right of property. Let me go through 69; now 69 tells you how you alter the constitution and it basically says that, yes the National Assembly does have the right to alter the constitution in the manner specified below, and then it tells you the manner. It says until or after the first general election held after Independence Day, a bill to alter any of the provisions of this constitution shall not be regarded as being passed by the National Assembly unless on its final reading in each House the bill is supported by the unanimous vote of all members of that House. This was a section that applied only at the start when we had Independence because you just couldn’t start passing laws, you had to get your Independence, then you established your constitution and then they saying after this, this is how we are suppose to amend it.”

Matura Shepherd says that interpreting the constitution is not the same as interpreting an Act and therefore Belizeans need to carefully understand what is being contemplated by the proposed ninth Belize Constitution Amendment.

Audrey Matura Shepherd – Attorney/Human Rights Commission
“When you interpret a Constitution unlike an Act that I will interpret, you interpret it more generously; you interpret it always in the best interest of the people. You see when you interpret a constitution you have to remember this is the pillar of your democracy, if this is the law that governs everything you do not interpret it in the same way you interpret ordinary law. You give it give far more power, you give it far more flexibility, you find ways that at all times whatever you do is to ensure that the rights of the people come first. It starts off by saying that the Government shall pass laws; subject to the provisions of this constitution the National Assembly may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Belize. The thing it is always about the people, it’s not about the bodies, it’s not about the executive, it’s not about the judiciary, it’s not about these entities like Public Service and so on it’s about the people.”

Ernesto Vasquez - Host
Am I right in thinking that the Constitution does give the people you elected the benefit of the doubt?

Audrey Matura Shepherd – Attorney/Human Rights Commission
“No, No.”

Ernesto Vasquez - Host
Because if it keeps saying, once they have majority let them do it, the Prime Minister just wants to clear that up and say well we were the elected persons, the buck stops with us. We are the ones who eventually we say we want all the telephones in Belize blocked, we won’t make everybody happy…

Audrey Matura Shepherd – Attorney/Human Rights Commission
“No. You can’t interpret the Constitution to say that. There are rules that govern, the spirit of the constitution that governs it and one of them is that at no time any elected government should go against what is the mandate of the people. So I that is not your mandate when you formed your manifesto, you need to go back to the people and you can’t say call in shows that are Belize City centric is your mandate, you cannot do that. At all times you have to remember that the fundamental thing is that you never do anything that will infringe on the basic rights of the people. It is not saying that they cannot change the constitution but the changes to the constitution can never be such that it will end up infringing on your basic rights, it was never intended for that.”

The Belize Constitution Ninth Amendment Bill 2011 has been referred to Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration.


#412568 - 07/27/11 10:01 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Former P.M. gives his view on 9th Constitutional Amendment

Said Musa

The proposed Ninth Constitutional Amendment was crafted to take action, in this case, to protect government’s usurping of B.E.L. and Telemedia from private ownership. The extent of that proposed law, however, would dangerously place beyond dispute any future amendments to the Constitution which will no longer be exposed to review in the courts. The piece of legislation is far reaching and once passed, will impose directly on the fundamental freedoms of every Belizean including their rights to life and liberty. Former Prime Minister Said Musa, who was instrumental in the drafting of the Constitution of Belize, has weighed in his legal opinion on the matter. Musa strongly believes that the passage of that law would pave the way for a centralized and dictatorial state contrary to the democratic foundation of the nation.

Said Musa, Former Prime Minister

“You know, I listened to the Prime Minister in the House when he tried to limit or give the rationale for this amendment to say Oh it was to deal with a case decided by the former Chief Justice which was challenging the right of the legislature to make an amendment if it sort of goes against the grain of the Constitution. Im just paraphrasing now. Well it does, this amendment goes farther than that, this amendment is just what I said. It is saying you cannot challenge any amendment to the Constitution on the grounds that its unconstitutional; for instance, or that its unlawful or void. Once we comply with our three fourths supermajority and pass it. And that to me is a frightening situation that has developed in our country that the Prime Minister and his government believes that they have to go to this extent to what I would call not only eroding the rights and freedoms of our people but to remove the very substrata, the structure, the essence of what it means when our Constitution talks about the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to security of the person and so on.”

Isani Cayetano

“If a subsequent government were to take office can this either be repealed or re-amended, so to speak?”

Said Musa

“Only if you have the three-fourths majority to do it because this is entrenching the very amendment itself, the very unconstitutional amendment to my mind. But its entrenching it. I would think that even before that that this law may have to be challenged in a court of law to find out whether or not it is constitutional because I have my serious doubts as to whether it is constitutional. In fact I strongly believed at this time having looked at it over the last few days more and more that it goes way beyond what is required even if you just want to ensure that for instance that the acquisition of B.T.L. and B.E.L. remains with government majority. It goes way beyond that. It goes now to our fundamental rights and freedoms and that is why I believe it should be challenged. Because if we accept this then were pretty much accepting that there is a need for us to move to a totalitarian state as opposed to a democratic state. It is as bad as that. Every single provision in this Constitution is designed within a democratic framework and an essential part of that democratic framework is what lawyers call the Rule of Law, you know. The people are hearing a lot lately about the Rule of law. What does that mean? It means first of all that no man, no person in this country is above the law, not the Governor General, not the Prime Minister, no one. It means also and this comes after years, hundreds of years of evolution that this democracy requires one: that the government must be elected by the people in free and fair elections. It also means that that government should go back to a periodic test, if you like, in our case every five years for the people to decide whether they want to keep that government or not. It also means that the framework of the system requires a check and balance system.”

Channel 5

#412631 - 07/28/11 10:10 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Human rights lawyer says debate over Constitutional Amendments is a good thing

As we reported on Tuesday night, the Dean Barrow administration has formally withdrawn the controversial 8th amendment bill following public outcry against preventative detention. The government however, has decided to push ahead with its 9th amendment to the constitution, which seeks to enshrine and safeguard the acquisition and state ownership of utilities and place those amendments to the constitution beyond court challenge. The move has come under heavy criticism from the Opposition and members of the Bar Association. Today 7 News spoke with local human rights attorney, Antoinette Moore who said the recent discussions and debates over the constitutional amendments are a great civics lesson.

Antoinette Moore - ABA Country Director
"It's timely in that, there are is there a great deal of discussion in the country right now, with regard to fighting crime, what efforts may be made, what different kind of innovative efforts may be made. Certainly, the Prime Minister has offered certain suggestions to his constitutional amendments, but there is another take on that. And certainly, the deficiencies in the system of prosecution in our country could be improved, and that could certainly help with fighting crime and with getting convictions. So I think there is an inter-relationship between this report, and what is going on in constitutional amendments. But at this time, I am not speaking on behalf of the Human Rights Commission of Belize; I'm speaking on behalf of the American Bar Association. What's going on in the country now, regardless of what your views are on the various constitutional amendments, it is providing an opportunity for all of us to further educate ourselves, and to educate the general public. I've been calling it a big civics lesson, and indeed, I think that we need much more of that. It's a big civics lesson, and we're all learning a great deal about our constitution, what it says and how it's changed."

Public consultations on the proposed 9th Amendment are expected to begin in two weeks.

This evening, the Belize Bar Association issued a press release calling on the Government to remove three proposed amendments to the Constitution. In the release, the Bar says the amendment to section 69 is replacing Constitutional democracy with parliamentary supremacy. The statement goes on to contend that the Constitution should be subject to judicial review and as such is asking the Government to remove the amendment to Section two. And finally, the association says property owners should have the right to challenge nationalizations. We'll have more on this story in tomorrow's newscast.

Channel 7

#412718 - 07/29/11 09:49 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Belizeans for Justice plan to parade against Ninth Amendment to the Constitution

Public criticisms continue to mount against the Barrow administration's proposed Ninth Amendment of the Constitution. Following the Belize Bar Association's press release on Wednesday, which called on Belmopan to remove three proposed clauses, today Belizeans for Justice announced its plans for a parade against the Bill. According to President Yolanda Shakron, the idea is to encourage Belizeans to stand up and speak out against what they feel are threats to democracy.

Yolanda Schakron - President, Belizeans For Justice
"We are having a rally this Saturday. It will start at Constitution Park at 10 o' clock. this is about not only the issues that are affecting us like poverty, crime but right now we are faced with a serious problem with this 9th Amendment. We feel that Belizeans need to come out, stand up and we need to send a message to our leaders that we will not tolerate our constitution to continue being amended. This is a very dangerous slope we are heading into. We believe that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and we know that this government has 3/4 majority but we do not want that to be abuse. We feel that this is one of the most dangerous things that we have seen in this country and we cannot sit back; I think Belizeans need to stand up now. We need to unite as a people, we need to come out in numbers and tell the government that we elected you yes but we expect you to act responsibly."

Saturday's parade starts at ten in the morning at the Constitution Park in Belize City. The event will end with a rally at the Memorial Park.

Channel 7

#412722 - 07/29/11 09:53 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Minister Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington defends 9th Amendment of Constitution

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

The ninth amendment bill, on its surface, aims to enshrine the government’s majority control of shares in utilities. But several attorneys, including those from the Human Rights Commission of Belize, the Bar Association of Belize and Senator Godwin Hulse, have all spoken about grave concerns on the Belize Constitution (Ninth Amendment) Bill, 2011. On Wednesday, the bar emphatically stated that it called on the government to withdraw the proposed amendment in its entirety. The bar takes issue with the definition and treatment of the term other law. According to Bar President Jacqueline Marshalleck, any amendment to the constitution in a constitutional democracy should be subject to judicial review. And any attempt to reject the jurisdiction of the courts undermines the Rule of law and violates the doctrine of the separation of powers, all essential elements of the constitution. And in the face of such criticism from an array of legal minds, Foreign Minister Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington explained the government’s position on the ninth constitution which aims to amend sections two and sixty nine of the constitution.

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Foreign Minister

“The national assembly can make any law, so long as it complies with the provisions of the constitution; any law, so long as it complies with the terms and provisions of the constitution. It can amend any law as well so that…”

Jose Sanchez

“But to borrow from Senator Godwin Hulse, the way he put it earlier in the week is that yes there are certain ways you can amend the constitution using the majority and he says he is happy with that—that you can do that. But it doesn’t make it right because we’re using an amendment in the constitution, you can do away with freedom of expression for example; but while that may not be right, you would still be able to challenge that in Court. But if you make it as a constitutional amendment, in what the ninth is putting to do, you won’t be able to challenge it at all.”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“No, and that is where he is fundamentally wrong. Any piece of legislation can be challenged it in court. The question is can you challenge it successfully? The only body in the country that has the authority to make laws is the National Assembly; the elected politician. Laws are made by elected politicians. They are made in the interest of the people. They are made by the politicians because the politicians believe that this is what the people want and this is clearly provided in section sixty-eight of the constitution which says that subject to provisions of this constitution, the National Assembly may make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Belize. Only the national assembly has this authority.”

Jose Sanchez

“But in having peace and good governance, wouldn’t that also mean you should have access to courts to challenge the government? Isn’t that what the ninth seeks out to do?”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“No, and that’s what I’m saying. The ninth does not seek to do that. What the ninth amendment seeks to do amongst other things is to say; that if you want to challenge the provisions of the amendment, you are bound by what section sixty-nine says has to be done. You can’t go outside of section sixty-nine because section sixty-nine is comprehensive and it tells you all the steps that you must follow if you want to amend the constitution.”

Channel 5

#412724 - 07/29/11 09:54 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Will 9th deny rights of property owners to access the Courts?

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

The bar issued a statement on Wednesday in which it says “the bar does not support the proposed amendment to the extent that it seeks to deny rights of property owners to access the courts to challenge nationalizations.” But according to the Foreign Minister, any aggrieved party would still be able to access the court. He says that a bad court decision, caused misconceptions about the ability of parliament to make such amendments.

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Foreign Minister

“The mischief arose because for about twenty-eight years nobody quarreled with that. Then about two years ago, Justice Conteh came up with the idea that it was not enough for you to comply with the provisions of section sixty-nine of the constitution and that you had to go for a referendum, which the Privy Council in the Alberto Vellos case against the Government of Belize immediately said, was wrong. And the pronouncement by the Privy Council is now part of our law—that in fact the position taken by the Chief Justice is wholly wrong and that to amend our constitution all the National Assembly needs to do is to comply with provision of section sixty-nine. That is all. And all this amendment is seeking out to do is to put that position as articulated by the Privy Council into the constitution itself so that it becomes an entrenched provision. And why do you do that? Because it avoids mischief, it avoids expense if the judge is bound only to look the provisions of sixty-nine and can’t go further afield, then it gives certainty to the process. You know for a fact that once you comply with the provisions of section sixty-nine, nobody can successfully tamper with it. So it gives certainty to the provision; even greater certainty.”

Jose Sanchez

“But an aggrieved party/business, whose property has been taken away, according to this; that person won’t be able to see that judge because legally it would be entrenched in the constitution. Won’t you be able to apply that to other cases?”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“No, no, no. The aggrieved party, whose property has been taken away now, can still go to court and claim that the procedure adopted to amend this constitution, to allow for the entrenchment of the ownership in the government, was flawed. It can go to court to argue that; however, it will be met with the response that the constitutional provision was scrupulously followed and once the constitutional provisions are scrupulously followed, then the judge can’t do anything about it.”

Jose Sanchez

“I think what the bar is saying is that they don’t have a problem with the procedure in which the constitution may be changed in the night. They are simply saying that the whole idea of separation of power; it’s changing the game, it’s changing this hallmark of who we are as a people and it takes away the power of the courts—even though it may be a legal thing.”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“No, no, no. It doesn’t take away the power of the Court. The court still has, but you see, like the parliament, the court is bound by the constitution. we are all bound by the constitution. The Court has no more power than that which is given to it by the constitution.”

Jose Sanchez

“But wouldn’t it be a constitution that would be changed with the amendment?”

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington

“Yeah and the people can change the constitution. the people can change the constitution. And you may not like it, but if this is what the people want, then they can do it.”

Elrington says that those who still don’t understand the proposed amendment or would like to share their views on it will get to do so very soon. Public Consultations on the proposed ninth amendment start on the tenth of August.

Channel 5

#412728 - 07/29/11 09:59 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

The Human Rights Commission of Belize today issued a release expressing grave concerns about the Belize Constitution Ninth Amendment Bill. In its release, the Commission says that the proposed amendments to Section two and section sixty nine of the Constitution will have the effect of ensuring that any future Bills such as the recently withdrawn Belize Constitution Eight Amendment Bill will be beyond challenge in the courts of Belize for the protection of fundamental rights in this country. The Human Rights Commission’s press release ends by saying that given the scope of the proposed amendments to the Belize Constitution and their potential impact on the protection of fundamental rights in Belize, the situation continues to be a matter of urgent regional and international concern.


#413025 - 08/02/11 11:27 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

All about the 9th Amendment to the Constitution

The proposed ninth amendment to the constitution; it has come under fire from various quarters since it was introduced in the House on July twenty-second. The Bar Association last week rejected the proposal on the grounds that it seeks to take away access to judicial review since the courts would be able to check on procedural issues, but would be required to refuse the claims. This morning, the President of the Bar, Jacqueline Marshalleck, expounded the thinking of the legal profession on Open Your Eyes. She cited the case of the late Barry Bowen and the Landowners Association who turned to the court in May, 2010 to challenge a bill which denied access to the courts to landowners if government would have taken their property. The CJ ruled at the time in their favor, but before the government appeal could be heard, the offending language in the bill was removed.

Jacqueline Marshalleck, President, Bar Association

Jacqueline Marshalleck

“The particular case that is an issue causing a lot of discussion was appealed, but not dealt with in appeals because in the interim between the Chief Justices decision and the appeal, the legislation was changed; the draft of the bill was changed and the provision that was an issue, and this is the Barry Bowen case—they weren’t fighting government over whether or not to vest minerals and oil and all these things, they were fighting an issue relating to access to the court. There was a provision in that bill that denied these landowners access to the court. After the chief justice’s ruling, that particular provision was removed and so by the time it got to the Court of Appeal, the court said well it’s no longer there anymore so. We have an affidavit from saying they’re not going to proceed with that so it would be really academic to just deal with it at this point. So the result is that the Chief Justice’s decision stands.”

Bar President says 9th prevents judicial review

As we said, the controversial ninth amendment seeks to prevent judicial review of any changes to the constitution. The Prime Minister last Friday in an open letter said that access to the court would not be denied, but the president of the Bar explains that you can still go to court but the court cannot review your claim in respect to the changes the supreme law of the land.

Jacqueline Marshalleck, President, Belize Bar Association

“You can go to the court still but when you get to the court, what the court is going to do is check to see if all the procedural requirements have been met and once those procedural requirements have been met they will dismiss your case and send you back through the door.”

Marleni Cuellar

So they cannot address the content of what is being changed. They can only at the process; the step one, two, three, four, five checklist.

Jacqueline Marshalleck

Jacqueline Marshalleck

“Correct. So you have freedom of expression as a right in the constitution. If the National Assembly changes that to say, however, you can no longer make any negative or derogatory statements about the Government of Belize “full stop” in the constitution, the media would definitely have a problem with that as would other citizens. You would then want to file a claim in the court, asking the court to verify whether or not this amendment that says you can no longer say anything negative about the government, is in compliance with your rights and freedoms in the constitution. The court will look at that, consider it and say you know what that derogates from the freedom of expression right, that then is void and inconsistent with the constitution; no effect. That is a fundamental change for us and the bar Association will have to consider whether or not we are gonna challenge this legislation because as I said, we already have challenges before the courts. If this goes through, that claim goes through the window. That’s not something that the Bar can accept. We’re supposed to be there, we understand that it won’t always be that the people understand the significance of the constitutional amendments, but we do and that means the responsibility is on us. So if it’s there to be challenged we have to do what we have to do.”

Channel 5

#413029 - 08/02/11 11:32 AM Re: Barrow: Making nationalizations unchallengeable [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

9th Amendment sparks opposition

The government’s proposed 9th Constitutional Amendment introduced at the last sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, July 24th, has been criticized by several of the country’s lawyers who say it infringes on Belizean rights.

Although the proposed public consultations on the constitutional changes are weeks away, already the airwaves are buzzing with discussions and comments.

These proposed amendments contain provisions for what the Prime Minister describes as, “enshrining the ownership of public utility companies in the name of the government and people of Belize”, with the government retaining a 51% ownership in utilities affecting water, electricity, and communications.

The government’s recent nationalization of two utility companies, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) and Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL), appears to have widespread public support in principle. But the wording of the Constitutional amendments and the protection being given to the nationalization process make it impossible for a court of law to have any power of review over the process.

Mr. Hubert Elrington, S.C., a former Attorney General (2004-2009), under Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel, told The Reporter: “I don’t think that any of us would like to give up the right to take the government to court if the government passes oppressive and tyrannical laws.

“If the government’s proposal to amend Section 69 of the Constitution in its 9th Amendment, it will declare that: “the provisions of this section are all-inclusive and exhaustive and there is no other limitation, whether substantive or procedural, on the power of the National Assembly to alter this Constitution.

“It also says that “a law passed by the National Assembly to alter any provision of this Constitution which is passed in conformity with this Section shall not be open to challenge in any court of law on any ground whatsoever!

“It’s an asinine notion,” Elrington said. “When you amend the Constitution, you can either increase the freedom that the people enjoy or decrease the freedom of the people.”

Mr. Eamon Courtnay, S.C. former Minister of Foreign Affairs (PUP) had this to say:

“The evidence is clear that Prime Minister Barrow is attempting “to institute a constitutional coup de’etat!

“He has removed the power of the people and put it in the Cabinet Room, and given it a constitutional blessing.

“It is constitutional dictatorship! And it ought to be rejected completely,” Courtnay insisted.

“Every effort should be made by the Belize Bar Association, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Churches, the Trade Union Congress and Belizeans in general to stop this dead in its track.”

Courtnay said that what the Prime Minister does will affect future nationalizations, and these will not be challengable in a court of law.

The Belize Bar Association has also issued a release condemning the 9th Constitutional Amendment as usurping the judicial authority of the Court and is insisting on its withdrawal.

Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Johnny Briceño, has characterized the proposed 9th Amendment to the Constitution as “a dangerous move.”

In a telephone interview, Briceño told The Reporter there is a clause in the Bill which appears to put the House of Representatives above the Courts.

He expressed concern that future amendments to the law could not be challenged in a Court of law once the 9th Amendment is passed.

The Opposition leader also lamented the fact that the Opposition side of the House had such a short time to study the Bill, because it was given to them “at the last minute”.

The Reporter

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