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Section 18 of the Constitution Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 00:00

On Sunday March 18th at a Press Conference held after a weekend of unbridled criminal activity the Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize declared that, “We will under section 18 of the Constitution of Belize ask the Governor General to designate certain clearly demarcated areas on the Southside of Belize City as emergency areas.”

While that has not been implemented as yet it is important for the public to know the details of such a proclamation. This section is invoked in times of public emergency where the state deems it necessary to give the authorities the appropriate tools to deal with these types of crises. Section 18 of the Constitution reads as follows:

18.-(1) In this Part “period of public emergency means any period during which -

(a) Belize is engaged in any war; or

(b) there is in force a proclamation by the Governor-General declaring that a state of public emergency exists; or

(c) there is in force a resolution of the National Assembly declaring that democratic institutions in Belize are threatened by sub-version.

(2) The Governor-General may, by proclamation which shall be published in the Gazette, declare that a state of public emergency exists for the purposes of this Part.

(3) A proclamation made by the Governor-General under subsection (2) of this section shall not be effective unless it contains a declaration that the Governor-General is satisfied-

(a) that a state of war between Belize and another State is imminent or that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease, or other similar calamity; or

(b) that action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger the public safety or to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of supplies or services essential to life.

(4) A proclamation made under subsection (2) of this section may be made so as to apply only to such part of Belize as may be specified in the proclamation (in this subsection called “the emergency area”), in which case regulations made under subsection (9) of this section shall except as otherwise expressly provided in such regulations have effect only in the emergency area.

(5) A proclamation made by the Governor-General for the purposes of and in accordance with this section-

(a) shall, unless previously revoked, remain in force for a period not exceeding one month;

(b) may be extended from time to time by a resolution passed by the National Assembly for further periods, not exceeding in respect of each such extension a period of twelve months; and

(c) may be revoked at any time by a resolution of the National Assembly.

(6) A resolution of the National Assembly passed for the purposes of subsection (1)(c) of this section shall remain in force for two months or such shorter period as may be specified therein:

Provided that any such resolution may be extended from time to time by a further such resolution, each extension not exceeding two months from the date of the resolution effecting the extension; and any such resolution may be revoked at any time by a further resolution.

(7) A resolution of the National Assembly for the purposes of subsection (1)(c) of this section, and a resolution of the National Assembly extending or revoking any such resolution, shall not be passed unless it is supported by the votes of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives present and voting.

(8) Any provision of this section that a proclamation or resolution shall lapse or cease to be in force at any particular time is without prejudice to the making of a further such proclamation or resolution whether before or after that time.

(9) During any period of public emergency, the following provisions shall have effect-

(a) the Governor-General may make such regulations as are necessary or expedient for securing public safety, the defense of Belize, the maintenance of public order and the suppression of mutiny, rebellion and riot, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community;

(b) any such regulations may empower such authorities or persons as may be specified in the regulations to make orders and rules for any of the purposes for which such regulations are authorised by this subsection to be made and may contain such incidental and supplementary provisions as are necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations;

(c) any such regulations or any order or rule made in pursuance of such regulations may amend or suspend the operation of any law and shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any law;

(d) in this subsection, “law” does not include this Constitution or any provision thereof or any law that alters this Constitution or any provision thereof.

(10) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law (including any regulations made under subsection (9) of this section) shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of sections 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 of this Constitution to the extent that the law in question makes in relation to any period of public emergency provision, or authorizes the doing during any such period of anything, that is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of any situation arising or existing during the period for the purpose of dealing with that situation.

While it is a tool available to the authorities and hasn’t been implemented or invoked as yet, the hope is that it is never used as even the law-abiding residents living in these “Special Areas” will be inconvenienced when these measures are put in place. So far it does not seem necessary and the appeal goes out to those who have unresolved issues to seek the guidance of the Police and other relevant entities to assist in the resolution of these conflicts.