Justices of the Peace in Cayo learn about their responsibilities Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 June 2017 00:00

During two sessions over the last two months, members of the Justices of the Peace from the Cayo Chapter, have been informed of their responsibilities to society. George Gomez, Minister of Justice during sessions with the Justices of the Peace on April 6th and as recently as May 28th has also informed them of their powers.

According to Gomez, a Justice of the Peace  falls under the Attorney General and has the same power of a sitting magistrate but in a civilian setting.  Because there is a high turnover of Magistrates in San Ignacio there has always been a need for Justices of the Peace.

President of the Justices of the Peace, Cayo Chapter, Albert Roaches has maintained that Police Officers also need to be trained about the roles of the Justices of the Peace.

The most recent educational session with Justices of the Peace held at the Cayo Welcome Center on Sunday was a way forward and ranking member of the Justice of the Peace Landy Espat agrees that “…we have a problem, but we can solve them through education.”

As reviewed by Gomez, a Justice of the Peace can sign summons, warrants and whenever a Magistrate is not in, can sign a further remand warrant. More importantly a Justice of the Peace can witness a confession and ensure that the defendant has not been tortured. A Justices of the Peace can also visit a cell block, check to see if the prisoner has received his charge sheet and on whether the prisoner has been properly fed and clothed. A Justice of the Peace has the power to suppress riots, grant bail among other duties, has the power to return personal items in police custody to their rightful owners.

The importance of Justices of the Peace as guardians of the Belize Constitution cannot be underestimated. With 14 years as a prosecutor, George Gomez’s reaching out to the Justices of the Peace in the Cayo area has been considered crucial given that Police have found it difficult at times to get their services and have had to rely on a few Justices of the Peace.