Barry Bowen discusses case against G.O.B.

[Linked Image] The case of Barry Bowen and the Landowners Association versus government was in the headlines right up to the end on February thirteenth, when the C.J. ruled against government’s proposed amendment to section seventeen of the constitution. The changes would have blocked access to the courts in the event of any grievances and would have vested all petroleum rights to government. Bowen and his attorney, Eamon Courtenay, were guests on this morning’s Open Your Eyes and we found more about their challenge to the amendment and the ruling by the C.J.

Barry Bowen, Won Case Against G.O.B

“Let’s take an issue with this one simple point; can or should someone change the basic right, the basic choice of the individual, abate your access to courts if you have a grievance and fortunately, the case that my very good friend here presented and very capably presented, the Chief Justice agreed that this was correct. So now in reality, he has said that the constitution says that you have the right to address the courts if you have a grievance and this is a very basic right of every Belizean. So we’re very, very happy.”

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney
“I think it’s a land mark decision because it is the first case that we have been able to find in the Commonwealth Caribbean where an individual is challenging an amendment to the constitution itself. There was no law above it to say that it was inconsistent with that law. So our argument really was that it was inconsistent with the constitution itself, which sounds like a contradiction but in fact we argued to the chief justice that when one looks at the constitution, the power of the government to amend the constitution is subject to restrictions. The government’s answer was well, you find it in the constitution and they said that there was a particular section, section sixty-nine, which says that if you waited for ninety days between the introduction of a bill and the second debate of the bill and you have a three-fourths majority and you pass it by a three-fourths majority then you can amend the constitution as you wanted. We argued to the Chief Justice that that is absolutely not so, could not be so and should not be so and the Chief Justice agreed with us.”

Barry Bowen
“I support that Dean Barrow should own land that they’ve lived on for centuries, it’s not much different from squatters’ rights. But if they do own land, like every other Belizean, they have to buy it by the law, by the constitution. So I think that this case the C.J. ruled on recently, I think it actually helps the government. It help all of us, it clarifies the situation. So it’s a good thing—in my opinion—it’s a good thing for everyone.”

Live and let live