Please no politics in the Guatemalan issue Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 20 August 2015 00:00

Following up on the Prime Minister’s Press Conference I have been browsing the social media to feel the pulse of what Belizeans were feeling and sad to say many people have been playing politics on this Guatemalan issue . Now take for example some people are calling for the firing of Minister Elrington from the position as Minister of Foreign Affairs because of some comments he made during an Amandala interview about the Sarstoon Island venture of the BTV. The Minister made those comments based on the information before him at the material time. When did it become a crime or dereliction of duty to say that one will not make a definitive statement until one has verified information in one’s possession? If that’s a crime, most of us would be doing life in jail for the amount of times we have told the truth and said we don’t know.

Another argument is that the OAS did us a an injustice by sending us it’s report in Spanish. If the report was in English then the Guatemalan Conspiracy Theorist would be making the same baseless argument. Then had they sent us the report in English and the Guatemalans their’s in Spanish, maybe one or both sides would be saying what one side got and what the other got is different. Sending that report in one language only avoids any doubt because both side got an identical copy of the same report. It is now a case of damn if you do damn if you don’t for the OAS. I took the time to check the OAS website and I have not seen any post in any other language other than Spanish. We knew that Spanish was the language the OAS communicated in. That is so because most of the OAS member countries communicate in Spanish, so Spanish is the language of choice. Long before we joined many years ago we knew that so why should we complain now.

From the Ministers at the head table during the press conference the PM may have been the least fluent in Spanish. Both Ministers Elrington and Saldivar are bilingual and are comfortable in speaking both Spanish and English. Their Ministries input would be the two Ministries the PM along with the National Security Council would rely on for advice in regards to a matter such as the one at hand. Also there are persons in the employ of the Government whose professional responsibility is to translate any such document from Spanish to English. Some people are once again playing POLITICAL FOOTBALL WITH THIS ALL IMPORTANT NATIONAL ISSUE. This Guatemalan unfounded claim is not a red or blue or any other political color issue. It is a NATIONAL ISSUE and the quicker we treat it as such the better it would be for the entire COUNTRY OF BELIZE.

Removal of Persons during a House Meeting Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 02 July 2015 00:00

Dear Editor,
Standing Order 87 of the House, provides for the Speaker to deal with and removal of strangers from the gallery during a House Meeting and Standing Order 44 provides for the Speaker to remove Members of the House during a House meeting but it does not address how to deal with a Senator who is in the gallery during a House Meeting. It goes without saying that a Senator has to be in the gallery because he has no right to sit in the actual chamber where the 31 members plus the Speaker sit during a House Meeting.

Standing Order 91 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives of Belize states:

“(1) The Speaker shall have power to regulate the conduct of business in all matters not provided for in these Standing Orders.
(2) The decision in all cases for which these Standing Orders do not provide, shall lie within the discretion of the Speaker, and shall not be open to challenge.
(3) The Speaker shall be responsible for the management and general administration of the chamber.”
Based on this Standing Order I have made a rule pertaining to behavior of people in the galleries during the House Meeting. Anybody who has ever listened to and/or been to a House Meeting since I have been the Speaker can recall that I repeat this rule to people in the galleries almost every House Meeting.
The Rule is simple and it is as follows:

Rule: When Members in the House from the UDP side are speaking the people in the gallery from the PUP side are to maintain absolute silence. And when Members in the House from the PUP side are speaking the people in the gallery from the UDP side are to maintain absolute silence. When the PUP House Members are speaking the PUP people in the gallery may cheer and support. When the UDP Members of the House are speaking the UDP people in the gallery can similarly cheer and support.

I have enforced the rule from time to time by ordering the removal of persons from both sides of gallery, and I know for a fact that, I have removed more people from the UDP side, including the Chairman of the UDP, than I have from the PUP side for breaking the rule.

The Legislative Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance No. 23 of 1962 came into effect to declare and define certain Powers, Privileges and Immunities for members of the Legislative Assembly. In this ordinance it defines strangers as follows:

“Stranger” means any person other than a member or an officer of the Assembly.”

My interpretation is that strangers are the people in the galleries present during a House Meeting or a Senate Meeting who are not members of the House or the Senate.

It is to be noted that this Ordinance at sections 3, 4 and 5 lists numerous privileges and immunities to Senators and Members of the House. It provides for the allowance and removal from a House or Senate meeting those people who are strangers in the galleries but it DOES NOT address the removal of Senators nor Members of the House during a House or Senate Meeting. It is silent on that issue and an immunity from removal during a House or Senate Meeting is not one of the immunities granted to Senators or Members of the House either. It is to be noted as well, that this Ordinance does not take on any type of constitutional authority relative to the Standing Orders of the House or the Standing Orders of the Senate. There is nothing in this Ordinance that says that if it clashes with the Standing Orders of either the House or the Senate that this Ordinance is to prevail. It is to be read alongside the Standing Orders of each respective House and not to be construed as having any higher authority than those two Standing Orders.

Since neither the Legislative Assembly Ordinance (Powers and Privileges) nor the Standing Orders of the House provide the Speaker with any rule or regulation as to how to deal with a Senator during a House Meeting then how the Speaker decides to deal with a Senator in that situation is entirely up to the Speaker pursuant to standing order 91 (1) of the House Standing Orders. This is in addition to the fact that no member of the House nor the Senate has immunity from expulsion during a House or Senate meeting because the Standing Orders of the House and Senate provide for the removal of Members of the House by the Speaker and removal of members of the Senate by the President.

In the case of Senator Jason Andrews during the House Meeting of June 26, 2015; the Hon. Patrick Faber got up to speak and during his speech I heard people from the PUP side of the gallery heckling him and talking loudly during his speech. I looked up in the gallery and told the gallery to be silent and reminded them of the rule. When I was saying this I noticed several persons in the PUP side of the gallery, whose faces am familiar with, including Senator Jason Andrews.

I informed Hon. Faber to continue his speech and as soon as he started to continue his speech Senator Andrews laughed loudly ridiculing what Hon. Faber had said. I then made the decision to have Senator Andrews removed from the House because even though he is a Senator it was my discretion and rule pursuant to standing order 91 of the House to remove anyone sitting in the gallery who refuses to remain silent during the presentation of a Member of the House. While it can be argued that Senator Andrews was not a stranger in the House in the strictest sense, he was in the very practical sense a stranger, indeed, because there are no special immunities nor privileges attached to a Senator that prevents him from being removed from a House Meeting and no special procedure to remove a Senator during a House Meeting, especially since he was not there under any special invitation from the Speaker.

In any given House Meeting the Speaker is entitled to set rules and regulations at his sole discretion that are not provided for in the Standing Orders of the House and everyone must follow them. There is nothing in any of the Standing Orders or Ordinance that prevents me from removing a Senator from the gallery during a House Meeting if he does not follow my rule. When I gave the warning to the gallery earlier that day Senator Andrews was in the gallery. If he was not aware of my rule before he became aware of it then. He should have respected my rule and when he chose to disrespect my rule I decided to use my general authority as the Speaker to remove him.

Speaker of the House of Representatives

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