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#412049 - 07/19/11 07:29 AM Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention?  
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Marty Offline
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Preventative detention - it's not the law yet - but already it has excited a good deal of public disapprobation. And one man who has heard it is UDP Area Representative for Mesopotamia, Michael Finnegan. He today told us that he went to speak to the Prime Minister on Friday to express his concerns for the rumblings of public discontent:…

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"I had a conversation with the Prime Minister and separately with other ministers. But I must first say that there is collective responsibility and I am a part of the Cabinet but as normal as we do we discuss these matters among ourselves or with the Prime Minister and I let off frankly to him the views of people out here in the public and he welcome the discussion we had and I explain to him that what I am picking up here is that people are of the view that the law will be a law that will trample on rights of the small man. People are of the opinion that the law will enhance the position of the people who are better off and different discussions we had in connection with the law. We will see how we will take it from there."

Jules Vasquez
"So if you had to make a prediction as to the future of this "Preventative Detention" law, what would you expect to happen to it?"

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"One thing I can say is that the Prime Minister and Cabinet welcome all views and we will have to watch and see the decision that Cabinet make and whatever decision Cabinet make I will have to support because we are bound by collective responsibility as I have just said. But I want to assure that the matter is open to the ears of Cabinet colleagues and open to the ears of the Prime Minister and we will take it from there."

Jules Vasquez
"So it is not a done deal at this time?"

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Of course it is not a done deal. This is a government that listens. We have a Prime Minister that is prepared to listen to people. To listen to other views and he will listen, he will discuss, he will weigh the pro and cons and then we will see what we will do."

This morning on KREM's WUB Michael Finnegan was far less circumspect in his remarks - he said, quote: "this thing is up in the air …and I will do my best to convince colleagues that this is not the way to go…I want to believe that (the) law will be put on hold and other things will be tried," close quote.

Channel 7

#412167 - 07/20/11 09:00 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
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Marty Offline
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P.U.P. does not support amendment on Preventative Detention

Turning to the proposed constitutional amendments that were introduced in the House of Representatives on May thirteenth. The Leader of the Opposition on Monday wrote to Minister Patrick Faber as Chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee. John Briceño says that the P.U.P. is not in support of the amendment on preventative detention and asks the government to withdraw it. Briceño points out that there are only twenty-four days left for the required consultation to take place and that the opposition expects that Belizeans will be afforded the time to express their views. Furthermore, the P.U.P. leader insists that the accompanying legislation be brought before the House and that the dates, times and places for the consultations are announced. His letter ends with a condemnation of the anti-constitutional and anti-democratic manner in which the constitutional process surrounding the Eighth Constitutional amendment has been handled by the government.

Channel 5

#412190 - 07/20/11 01:20 PM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
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Katie Valk Offline
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Since Finnegan said so, assume so.

Belize based travel specialist
#412232 - 07/21/11 07:56 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
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Marty Offline
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PM: If Not Preventative Detention, Then What?

So while the constitutional amendment to enshrine control of utilities in the hands of the government and people of Belize now takes center stage - and preventive detention is in the refrigeration, it's not in deep freeze - and government may re-visit it after it consults on the Utility Control amendment.

PM Barrow told the press this morning that he's gotten death threats over preventive detention but something has to be done - and he's open to ideas:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
If we - after we deal with this more pressing issue for us - if we became convinced at any time, that the vast majority of the people of this country, or a significant majority of the people of this country, do not want us to proceed in that way. Then we won't so proceed. I believe that the times require some drastic measures, but if the public - if the electorate says, 'Fine, let there be drastic measure, but just not that one.' I have to listen. That's the whole idea of consultation. What's the point of consulting if you've already made up your mind that it doesn't matter what the consultation process throws up, you will proceed?"

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, but you had said that, that was your position, with respect, outside the house."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I never said that at all. I said that I have every intention of seeing this one through, but Jules, that has to be inherently subject to what the democratic process is. Either we're democrats or we're not; let me make something clear, I've been threatened, you know, over preventative detention. My thoughts along those lines are on the basis of wanting to protect the society including the very people who are most being murdered. You look at it. It's not the middle-class people. It's not the business people that are getting murdered, you know. It's young black males, and so the notion that somehow we came up with this as a sop to the business people is simply not true, and the point I'm trying to make is that I have to have sleepless nights from a number of points of view with respect to this thing. And I have conceded squarely from the very start that this is contentious. I feel - I felt at that time - and still feel - that something along these lines is necessary. But ultimately, man, if it is clear to me that I am pretty much alone in that feeling - and that alone would be an overstatement. But if it is clear to me that the democracy in this country is saying, 'Find another way.' I will have to listen."

And while Barrow told us he is a democrat, he didn't sound that open to suggestion back in April when he re-introduced the proposal. At the time, he said regarding the wide public disapproval for the idea, quote: "we will simply have to proceed in the face of whatever opposition there is."

He was speaking at a press conference after a weekend that witnessed four murders in 24 hours...

Channel 7

#412241 - 07/21/11 08:06 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
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Marty Offline
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Preventative detention now in refrigerator’s back shelf

Dean Barrow

The other hot button issue is Preventive Detention. It is a measure that was first withdrawn due to considerable opposition by the man on the street. In its incarnation in May of this year, there were still objections by many as well as by organizations such as the Human’s Rights Commission and the Opposition. It is one of the three crime bills that were introduced to the House of Representatives in May. While two were passed with the government’s super majority, preventive detention would necessitate a constitutional amendment. Opponents of the bill say the amendment would be necessary since it restricts liberties and freedoms enshrined in the constitution. Although the issue was thawing and rotting like the proverbial old beef on the streets, the PM said this morning that for now, that measure is going back into the cool recesses of the refrigerator.

Dean Barrow

“We are able to determine whether we should proceed absent a referendum. We don’t need a referendum to help us make this determination. Look, let me make something clear, I’ve been threatened over preventative detention. My thoughts along those lines are on the basis of wanting to protect the society including the very people who are most being murdered. You look at it: dah noh di middle class people, dah noh di business people di get murdered; dah young black males. And so the notion that somehow we came up with this as a sop to the business people, is simply not true. On Friday we’re going to introduce the constitutional amendment to enshrine the ownership of the public utilities in the government and people of Belize and we want to take that through the public consultation process and concentrate on that. So certainly for that period of ninety plus days, there will be no focus on preventative detention at all. So it’s on pause; it’s on hold until at the very least we can get through what we plan to introduce on Friday. On the same day as we passed the B.E.L. act, the trial by judge alone bill and the bill to amend the law so that when somebody is convicted in the Magistrate’s Court and appeal and gets bail, no longer does it mean that the conviction is suspended. In other words, that was a get out of jail free card because the appeal would never come up. That’s now the part of the law that your appeal does not act as any suspension of the sentence. You have to go to the Supreme Court to apply. There were three measures: Preventive detention which would have to be by way of a constitutional change; the trial by judge alone and the amendment to provide for the non-automatic suspension of sentences after an appeal from conviction in the Magistrate’s Court. Two have been accomplished; the 3rd is now officially on hold until at the very least we can get through what we are doing on Friday.”

Channel 5

#412346 - 07/23/11 08:09 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline
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Barrow “ices” preventative detention proposals!

This week, Opposition Leader Johnny Briceño called on the Barrow administration to withdraw the preventative detention proposals that could see suspects detained for up to 21 days, and longer with court approval, without having a single charge being read to them.

The proposals have been controversial, and Prime Minister Dean Barrow has himself admitted that they are, in his own words, draconian. Barrow told us that he has even been threatened over the preventative detention proposals.

There was an occasion when he had to increase security at his house after a threat was “texted” to him; now intermediaries have come forward to say that a known gang leader has made it plain that if Barrow proceeds with this measure, “things” will happen to him, Barrow told Amandala.

“It was not as if though this was a course that, speaking for myself, I embarked on lightly,” said Barrow, speaking of pursuing the preventative detention proposals.

The indiscriminate killings of two Chinese women in one weekend, said Barrow, had put an exclamation point on the fact that Belize is not making progress in dealing with the crime situation. Recently, there was a lull in murders, but somebody was murdered last night, Barrow said in speaking with us on Wednesday.

“We still believe that drastic measures are called for,” he affirmed.

On Wednesday, Barrow told us that Cabinet has agreed to put the proposals on hold. After widespread consultations, said Barrow, his administration will make a final decision on whether to continue pressing ahead with the proposal.

To date, no draft legislation explaining the details of how preventative detention would work has been made public. In May, the Barrow administration merely tabled the constitutional amendments that would pave the way for preventative detention legislation later on. Now, the constitutional amendment, said Barrow, has been “put in the refrigerator.”

Amandala asked Barrow to explain the reason for putting the preventative detention proposals on hold. He told us that starting this Friday, July 22, they are going to be concentrating on the constitutional amendment to enshrine Belizean (public) majority ownership of the Belize Telemedia Limited, the Belize Electricity Limited, and the Belize Water Services Limited into the Constitution.

This, said Barrow, will require the usual public consultation process, and the House committee, led by UDP chairman Patrick Faber, will go around the country for that purpose.

“For us, that is number 1 now,” said Barrow, “and we believe that if we try to run parallel tracks with respect of preventative detention that would be counterproductive.”

Barrow said that of the package of three crime measures, his administration has so far accomplished two, the biggest one, in his view, being eliminating trials with jury for cases of murder and attempted murder. They have also introduced a provision in law that will mean that a person convicted of murder cannot get automatic bail on appealing the conviction.

“This third change [preventative detentions],” said Barrow, “requires a constitutional change; and it is something that I have to concede is an interference with individual liberty as we know it.”

When the consultation process is finished, said Barrow, they will decide whether to take the preventative detention proposals out of the “fridge” or whether to take it completely off the table.

He said that he will measure the success of the crime measures by the statistical outcomes.

“Certainly,” said Barrow, “I would want to see over the next let’s say 120 days, to give ourselves as much time as is needed to carry out public consultations; [I] would want to see a decrease of the murder rate [in]... the second half of the year.”

He said that he would also like to see an increase in the conviction rate.

“I would certainly want to see an increase in the success of security forces in terms of getting guns off the street and securing convictions for guns,” Barrow added.

“Trial by judge alone will prove to be a boon in terms of securing convictions...” he commented.

We told the Prime Minister that some people have said judges can also be, and some of them have actually been, threatened.

To this, he said that whereas they can provide full-time police security for judges, they cannot provide this service for the 12 jurors who would sit on those cases.

“They [judges] are like me, public officials, but there is a certain degree of risk inherent with job description. I don’t want to sound unfeeling at all, and I’ve already indicated to judges, you can get 24-hour protection,” said Barrow.


#412397 - 07/24/11 09:27 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,669
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by Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Clearing Up the Facts

Preventative Detention [Section 5(1)(k)] being made Constitutionally entrenched

Now thanks to those who were persistent and vocal we are hearing a raging debate about preventative detention. However amidst all of that there are still many misinformation and outright lies. So lets stick to the facts and help people recognize the red-herrings thrown at us.

For clarity – I will refer to the Constitution as the Supreme Law or the Primary Legislation and any other law created under it as the Secondary legislation because it is subject to the primary legislation. There is only one Primary Legislation and that is the Constitution of Belize

The Cart before the Horse
The fact is there are four proposed Constitutional amendment contained in the Belize Constitution (Eight Amendment) Bill which was tabled and went through its first reading on May 13, 2011. On that same date three additional Bills were also tabled and read – these are: Indictable Procedure (Amendment) Bill, which deal with Trials without jury; the Juries (Amendment) Bill, which deals with provisions of the jury Act that will not apply where trials are held without Juries; and the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill. So the first two Bills are the secondary legislation addressing the details of the amendments to Sec. 6.

However, the constitutional amendments of Section 7 and 8 do not require any secondary legislation because this is an outright amendment of a Constitutional Right – that is your protection from inhuman treatment, which is not addressed specifically in any other law. Amendment of Section 8 of the Constitution again does not affect any other existing secondary law – it deals with protection from slavery and forced labour.

However, amendment of Section 5 under the Constitution deals with the removal of your right to liberty under a new law (secondary legislation) that needs to be introduced to allow preventative detention and removal of children. The problem many are not appreciating is two-fold:

1. no one has any idea (based on Minister Faber’s radio call, not even the Government) what this new law which is subject to the Constitution would be saying; and secondary law (in this case a new law) can derogate from the Constitution.

Obviously, this has not yet been thought out properly yet it is already proposed and tabled. But when dealing with our personal liberty it is a matter that CANNOT be taken lightly.

Back-door Consultations – Section 6

Interestingly, it is a fact that the secondary legislation that deals with the amendments to section 6 of the Constitution, the amendments of the Juries Act and Indictable Procedure Act have already passed all its readings in the National Assembly at the last sitting. The Fact is that these were assented to on July 5, 2011 and gazetted July 9, according to inquiries made with the staff at the National Assembly.

This is putting the cart before the horse because these amended version of the law can carry no weight and cannot be acted upon even though they are already passed in the National Assembly, because as the Constitution now stands these are in contravention of Section 6 of our Constitution and thus UNCONSTITUIONAL!

The passing of these, through the back door already, I opine is only indication of the trend of the government to pass these without consultation. If the secondary legislation is already a done deal – technically - why consult? If there is to be genuine consultation then there is need for these not to have been rushed through at the last sitting along with the BTL re-nationalization. These Bills being ordinary amendments are not subject to the minimum 90 days rule, thus this was possible.

With these already slipped in through the back-door the consultations it would seem will be only a formality. Why else would any government have the audacity to pass the secondary legislation before the primary one, if not because they already know they will pass the amendments no matter what. So now we can prepare for back-door consultations on amendments to Section 6.

The Constitution Sets the Standard
It is a fact that the Constitution is a law – it is the Supreme Law and any law that “is inconsistent with this Constitution that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” – Sec. 2 Constitution of Belize

So it is nonsense when anyone says that the critics have nothing to present and the concerns are baseless. That elected representative and media persons need to get a quick crash-course on Constitutional law. For example the proposed preventative detention says a person could be preventatively detained initially “for a period no longer than twenty-one days” days, no subsequent secondary law can cut down that initial period. Remember what the Constitution is Supreme so once we make Preventative Detention a part of the provisions of our fundamental rights it becomes entrenched and only another landslide government can change it..

The proposed law also says that you can be preventatively detained if you are “suspected to belong to criminal gangs or to have otherwise associated with criminal activities” – so no secondary law can say evidence is need to act against a person since the Constitution, which is supreme already set the standard which is “suspicion” not reasonable suspicion.

What people need to understand is that it is a fact that when we say the Constitution is Supreme – this means that no matter what any other law may say those other laws CANNOT usurp the authority of the Constitution. So whether we are provided with the secondary legislation or not the fact remains that the proposed Constitutional amendment as is already sets the tone of what the secondary legislation will look like.

What’s the “New” law for Preventative Detention?
The fact is that Bill reads:
“Section 5 of the Constitution is hereby amended as follows:-
(i) in subsection (1) by adding the following new paragraphs immediately after paragraph (j):-
(k) under a law which makes reasonable provisions in the interest of public safety, peace and good order for the preventative detention of persons who are suspected ….”

I highlight this part to show that a new law is yet to be created and it does makes basic common sense that we should be able to have seen this proposed secondary law just when this amendment was proposed. This secondary I would not want to have tabled then but we should have at least seen what it entailed. Two months down the line and we still have not seen it.

For my part seeing the secondary legislation would still not change my concern and opposition because the primary legislation which is the Constitution is supreme and so the threshold of how a person can be preventatively detained would not change.

Having seen how our personal liberty is being taken away with one broad sweep by a constitutional amendment – I don’t see what “reasonable provisions” can be made. Once the constitutional amendments pass – that is it!

Further, no secondary legislation can change the fact that what is being taken away is all your rights under Section 5(2) and (3) – that is your right to be informed within 24 hours about the reason for such arrest, in a language you understand; the right to communicate without delay with an attorney, or minor with a relative; your right to be informed about your constitutional rights (because you have none); your right to habeas corpus (ie. Right of an arrested person to be brought before a court); and the right, if not released to be brought before a court within 48 hours. What else can the secondary legislation say? Especially since the amendment to the Constitution is crystal clear on what is being taken away – which cannot be restored by any secondary legislation because to do so would be null and void as trying to supersede the supremacy of the Constitution.

The Final Nail in the Coffin
The fact is that same amendment goes on to say:
“Provided that no person shall be detained under a detention order made under a law referred to in paragraph (k) and (l) of this section for a period longer than twenty-one days, but the initial detention order may be extended for a further period not exceeding one month by a judge of the Supreme Court in Chambers [in closed court] on an ex parte [in absence of the other party – the detained person here] application made in that behalf.”

The fact is that the secondary law CANNOT make it less than 21 days initially, or less than an additional month, nor say it will be done in open court and through an inter partes [with all parties present] application. Come on fool the talk but no fool the listen! By the proposed amendment of Section 5, the coffin was built, the corpse was identified, the cover was placed on, and the final nail driven in!

#412555 - 07/27/11 08:43 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,669
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Preventive Detention: From The Refrigerator To The Garbage

One week ago it was put in the refrigerator, and now Preventative Detention has been put in the garbage; the controversial constitutional amendment is dead! That's what came out of today's Cabinet meeting where the decision was taken to formally withdraw the Belize Constitution 8th amendment bill and its proposal for preventative detention. And it's all to make way for the 9th amendment to the constitution, which seeks to forever preserve public ownership of national utilities.

But that amendment which was tabled on Friday to popular acclaim is now generating its own share of controversy. It seeks to put the utilities amendment - and in fact, all constitutional amendments - beyond the reach of the courts - and that has stirred up the opposition attorneys.

One of the criticisms they've put forward is that with the ninth amendment changes - even preventative detention couldn't be challenged in the courts. And now they've taken it one step further; they're saying that's why government is going ahead with the ninth amendment changes - to bring back the eighth with no means to block it.

It's kind of a stretch, but the argument did get the Barrow Administration's attention. And so, today's cabinet release says the eighth amendment is being withdrawn to quote, "expose completely this false campaign." And while preventive detention - now twice raised - and twice dismissed - is gone - likely for good, government intends to forge ahead with public consultations on the proposed 9th. Amendment to the constitution. That starts on Wednesday August tenth in Belize City, time and location to be announced.

Again, the 9th Amendment is to enshrine and safeguard the acquisition and state ownership of utilities and place those amendments to the constitution beyond court challenge.

If you like it, or loathe it, you can have your say at the consultations which start in two weeks.

Channel 7

#412564 - 07/27/11 08:52 AM Re: Is GOB Re-considering Preventative Detention? [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,669
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Cabinet has officially withdrawn the Belize Constitution Eight Amendment Bill and its preventative detention proposals. The decision was made at today’s Cabinet meeting. Cabinet says the Belize Constitution Eight Amendment Bill which contains the proposals for the introduction of preventative detention is in no way linked with the ninth amendment bill. With the withdrawal of the eight amendment bill Cabinet says the consultation process which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday August 10 in Belize City must examine only the provisions and objectives of the ninth amendment bill designed to place beyond court challenge the proposed constitutional amendments to enshrine and safeguard the acquisition and state ownership of BEL, BTL and BWSL. Cabinet says the move is a result of the Opposition’s public campaign that it is Government’s plan to pass the ninth amendment bill and after it is passed to put in the eight amendment bill with its preventative detention proposals.


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