Issues like preventative detention, offshore drilling could be unstoppable

Arthur Saldivar

The calls to put an end to the ninth amendment bill, does not start or stop with Oscar Sabido. Attorney Arthur Saldivar says although many Belizeans may find government control of utilities acceptable, how the bill seeks to bring about that control is appalling. The bill calls for amending sections two and sixty-nine of the Belize Constitution. Section Two is the portion of the constitution that establishes the supremacy and unshakable dominance of our constitution, and tampering with that section would corrupt all the ideals of justice that the architects of the constitution had envisioned within the framework of our democracy.

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney

“The prime minister and the government are saying that a constitutional amendment is exempt from judicial challenge no matter how good or how bad it may be. It’s important. You have a ninety day period within which a bill can be introduced, ratified and become law. Within that ninety day period, there can be no challenge because it is premature—nothing exists—you cannot challenge a non-existing piece of legislation. So while we’re within that window, nothing can be done. The Court cannot hear it because it will be struck down on the principle of prematurity. We have to wait until it becomes law—when somebody can actually be subjected to it. Now as it relates to constitutional amendments, you don’t have that right anymore by virtue of what is being proposed in the 9th Amendment Bill. So now, most Belizeans may agree with public ownership or government ownership of utilities, but this amendment to section two does not only pertain to that—that’s only one thing. Let me give you some of the other things that may come through once this door is open to the government. We know that the Prime Minister has said due to opposition from the majority of people within our society; that preventive detention has been put in the refrigerator. Well we know why people put things in refrigerators, to preserve it and keep it fresh until such time as they do decide to eat it. Once this amendment goes through, the time to serve and eat will be there because preventive detention is coming by way of a constitutional challenge that cannot be challenged by virtue of what is being done by the 9th Amendment. Outside of that, we have the referendum presently ongoing by Oceana, by COLA and by other pressure groups within our society to block offshore drilling. Well, offshore drilling may be the subject of a constitutional amendment and that will not be challenged because this would have been put in place. We have the situation right now where there are certain wrongheaded people in our society calling themselves UNIBAM seeking to have the whole idea of sodomy be struck off the laws of Belize. Well, if they propose a civil union amendment to have civil unions being equated to marriage; that will be put in our constitution and it will go without challenged. This is what this does—this erases, eradicates, demolishes, destroys, strips away totally the citizen’s right to challenge anything that threatens his existence and existence of his freedoms. There is no democracy with this. Democracy would be dead.”

Channel 5