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Joined: Oct 1999
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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.


Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Belizeans for Justice ask Courts for Promised 13th Senator

Yolanda Schakron

There are currently twelve members appointed to the Senate. But there was a promise of a thirteenth senator to represent non-governmental organizations. NGO's had already nominated Greg Choc as their candidate, however, the prime minister has said that he will not proceed with the thirteenth senator. Belizeans for Justice believes that senator thirteen can balance the political divide and bring forward positive changes. So the organization has filed a lawsuit with the hopes that it will force the appointment to bring forth senator number thirteen. Belizeans for Justice's President, Yolanda Schakron explained.

Yolanda Schakron, President, Belizeans For Justice

"We have decided we want the courts to make a declaration regarding the 13th senator. This has been brought into law by the Prime Minister, by the house, by the senate. It's been approved by the governor general. But the Prime Minister's signature is left to be put on this law so we can go ahead to appoint a 13th senator from the NGOs."

Jose Sanchez

"We know your group normally deals with crime related issues. Why is this issue so important to your group itself?"

Yolanda Schakron

"Because Belizean for Justice is not just about crime issue because there are injustices in everything and we believe that if the NGOs have a representation in the senate, we will have a true democracy-there will be a representation of the people and the people's voices will be heard and it is not only what the present government or any government, they control the house, but if we have a playing field we won't have just every law passed into effect. It will just automatically be approved in the senate. And this will be better for Belizeans, for us the people and I think out voices can be heard and it's true democracy."

Oscar Rosado, Member, Belizeans For Justice

Oscar Rosado

"I just want to say I agree with the president, Mrs. Schakron and this is for all NGOs not only Belizeans for Justice. Having representation in there will give us a step. All NGOs with the issues that the Belizean people are facing will have a step in there and it is a step forward for the Belizean people. The voices of the Belizean people will be heard."

The case is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court before Acting Chief Justice Samuel Awich on February eleventh.

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