Belize Law Society at Cavehill position on the Ninth Amendment to the Belize Constitution Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 October 2011 00:00

The Belize Law Society at Cavehill is an association that comprises of primarily law students attending University of the West Indies (UWI). We recognize that as the future and current leaders in our societies we must make a meaningful contribution to the debate as we put forward our position of the 9th Amendment currently proposed by the government of Belize.

Firstly, the Belize Constitution in section two declares “This Constitution is the supreme law of Belize and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” The constitution should be a reflection of the will and ethos of the people of  Belize. This is reflected in the very backbone of the constitution where in the preamble of the constitution states “WHEREAS the people of Belize” “believe that the will of the people shall form the basis of government in a democratic society.” The learned CJ Conteh himself has lamented on the importance of the preamble stating the preamble “is a part of the constitutions text and architecture and its interpretation and application, it fills the text with meaning and gives the Constitution itself  shape and form, reflecting the very essence, values, and logic of the Belizean people as a whole.” Those pundits who have suggested that the constitution is synonymous to the Bible have totally misconstrued the purpose of the constitution. The constitution is a living breathing embodiment of the collective aspirations, will, and desire of the people of Belize it is not guide sent from above which should not be altered or improved in anyway. One must not forget what is one of the sentinel principles of Constitutional law which is that the Constitution is evolutionary and not revolutionary, but it must evolve. Lord Diplock in the famous and celebrated Jamaican case of Hinds v Queen (1975) established this principle in light of Commonwealth Caribbean constitutions. Hence, the constitution must be amended and altered in order to address modern issues and problems as they arise. One such problem plaguing our society is the rampant abuse by economic parasites under the vail of investors. It is palpable that privatization of our utilities has caused more negative ramifications than positive ones.

Therefore, nationalization of our utilities is the most logical and practical solution to solving this problem. 

Secondly, the sole function of the judiciary is interpret the constitution and subsequent laws, only where it is not clear the intention of parliament should the judiciary provide and interpretation. It is a pillar of our democratic system that judges are NOT to make laws, the function of law making resides in parliament. Those persons who are challenging the constitutionality of the amendment as some derogation of the rights of the Belizean people, are not being genuine or simply are misinformed as to the current reality of the constitution as it has existed for almost 30 years now. The legislature has always had the absolute power to change the constitution as so long as it subscribes to the manner and form mechanism required by the constitution, and adheres to the rule of law. These manner and form mechanisms are one of the safeguards that protect the people and Belize; however the reality is that the greatest fetter is the collective will of the people. Whenever it is clear that a legislature is not reflecting the will of the populous they immediately will have relinquished their power to legislate.

Furthermore, the reality is that every law in some capacity is a derogation of the fundamental rights of the people. Section three of the constitution clearly allows for such derogation. It states, “Whereas every person in Belize is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of individual, that it is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but SUBJECT TO RESPECT FOR THE RIGHT AND FREEDOM OF OTHERS AND FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST.” Thus, these derogations are sometimes deemed as necessary fetters to maintain public order and prosperity for our country. The legislature is bestowed with the task of balancing these rights of the individual against the collective good of society.

Finally, it is a known fact that every society today is built upon the affordable access to technology. The telecommunication infrastructure for that reason cannot be merely used to apply to the normal products and services of a capitalist society. It is of similar importance as any other essential utility such as light, and water and therefore access should not only be determined by your finances, but more so be a right of every Belizean. The electricity and telecommunication services have, collectively, superseded the sphere of mere wants in our daily lives and are in fact essential services in contemporary societies such as ours. Together with water, these utilities form part of the fabric for survival. Simply put, we believe my survival is my responsibility; therefore it is logical to equate that our survival is our responsibility, and given that the Government of Belize is representative of the people of Belize, they are charged with said responsibility. We commend the government for taking on such duties head-on, and in their efforts they are ensuring that the survival of each of us remains in our hands and no one else’s.

It is for all these reason that we support the 9th amendment.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 14:08