Belizeans for Justice challenges Prime Minister in court over refusal to establish thirteenth Senator
This evening, Amandala received official documentation from attorney Anthony Sylvestre, representing the organization Belizeans for Justice (BFJ), chaired by Yolanda Schakron, which has filed a fixed date claim, No. 846 of 2010, in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow and the Attorney General (currently Bernard Q. Pitts).
The claim concerns the Prime Minister’s refusal to have Section 7 of the Belize Constitution (Sixth Amendment) Act, 2010 (Act No. 13 of 2008), regarding the provisions for a thirteenth seat in the Senate, being brought into force.
Having been introduced in the House of Representatives in April of 2008, the Sixth Amendment Bill was passed in August, but it was not signed into law by the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, until March 30, 2010, as a result of litigation in the courts.
The Prime Minister, on April 8, 2010, by Order published in the Government Gazette, announced April 12, 2010 as the date on which the amendment would come into force, except for certain sections, including Section 7, which concerns the Senate.
The claim form as seen by Amandala notes that from March 24, the Prime Minister had stated intentions of not having that section of the amendment come into force, and on August 6, 2010, said that Section 7 would never be brought into force.
Belizeans for Justice is seeking to have the Court declare that the Prime Minister’s decision is against the powers granted to him under Section 23 of the Act and breaches the “legitimate expectation” that a seat would be granted following the passage of the Act and its being brought into force, and wants the Court to order that that section be brought into force so that first interested party in the case, Gregory Ch’oc, executive director of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM), or a nominee of the second interested party, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO), be seated as soon as possible.
Ch’oc was duly nominated by APAMO at a meeting in October of 2008 as their nominee for the seat.
The claimant contends that the Prime Minister is bound by Section 23 to appoint a day when the entire Act, a valid law, would come into force, including Section 7, and that it is a non-governmental organization (whose listed address is 46 Vernon Street) with an interest in seeing a senator representing the views of NGO’s such as Belizeans for Justice in the Senate, whether Ch’oc or someone else.
Since only the Prime Minister has such authority, the form states, the claimant is forced to come to court to seek redress. Amandala