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UDP swears in woman Speaker of the House Print E-mail
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Written by By Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

longsworth sworn in wide .jpg - 76.84 KbPrime Minister Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow had announced in mid-December that the new Speaker of the House of Representatives would be Laura Longsworth and true to the announcement she took up the position at the House Meeting held on Friday January 13th.

At the start of the meeting Prime Minister Barrow proposed that Mrs. Laura Tucker Longsworth be the new Speaker, that motion was seconded by Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber. With there being no other nomination to the position, Mrs. Longsworth was escorted into the house chambers to take up the position. Shortly thereafter she was administered the oath of office after which she read from a prepared statement.

She stated as follows: “I stand before you as the first woman speaker nominated by the sitting government and the third woman who has been appointed speaker in the history of Belize. An important historical milestone is also being achieved as I am the first nurse to serve in the legislature as the speaker of the House of Representatives. I was confronted with numerous reasons for not accepting the nomination as speaker. But those reasons receded in order of importance when compared to the rare opportunity to represent women at this high level and my country as Speaker of the House of Representatives. One message that truly resonates with me is an encounter with an ordinary citizen of Belize, an older Creole woman who stopped me in the isle of the supermarket to inquire if I was that lady who would become the speaker of the house. Her message to me was, ‘darling I hope you can make them behave themselves, I feel really bad when I watch them on TV, and I always wonder why they have to act like that.’ Ironically she captured the main theme of messages that were expressed via social media, broadcast media and personally. Chaos and the complexity of business in the Honorable House is expected but it requires that members harmonize efforts to create better decorum in conducting business in National Assembly. It is with humility that I accept the position of Speaker and pledge to serve in a just and fair manner.”

Speaking on her appointment Hon. Dean Barrow said that, “Your accession will usher in a new era, an atmosphere entirely conducive to the smooth flow of business in parliament. Clearly there can be no forsaking spirited robust even fierce debate. Nobody wants a colorless bloodless house. Combativeness, though not incivility is surely allowed, even desirable. So let the words fly. Let the rhetoric be in passion, but let us never again descend into venom and vitriol. I say this madam speaker as one who has been guilty in the past, yes I have. But as one who now knows that cannot continue this because it is not right and because you our new madam speaker will not permit it.”

Echoing that sentiment was Leader of the Opposition Johnny Briceño who stated that, “I have listened to the Prime Minister’s comments and I’m happy to hear that he is also committing and admitting that over the past years there have many instances when the debate and the behavior in the house have gotten completely out of control and I do agree with the Creole lady that spoke with you, that whilst we are supposed to be giving the example to this country. In many instances the behavior in this house has been the exact opposite. We are going to do everything possible to cooperate with you and we will do our part to ensure that we have a level of civility in the house that is merited and that what I think every Belizean expects from each one of us.”

By the time the House adjourned both leaders had words of high praise for the New Speaker for the manner in which she conducted the day’s business.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2017 15:37
 
Home Affairs Ministry analyzing crime stats for long term strategy Print E-mail
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Written by By Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

ministry of home affairs.jpg - 45.53 KbThe Ministry of Home Affairs and the Belize Police Department are finalizing the details of a long term plan to combat gangs and violent crimes in Belize City and other hotspots. That plan is expected to be released by the first week of February as the Ministry is still analyzing the crime statistics from last calendar year.

Major crimes are down nationally by 3.5 percent, according to the Reported Crimes Comparative Statistics of the Belize Police Department. Major crimes are murders, rape, robbery, burglary, theft and carnal knowledge. In 2016 there were 2,137 major crimes, 79 less than the 2,216 such offenses reported in 2015.

In 2015 there were 233 violent crimes committed against people. Those include 119 murders, 40 cases of rape and 74 reports of unlawful sexual intercourse. In 2016 there were 248 violent crimes upon people reported. Those crimes were 138 murders, 23 rape cases and 87 reports of unlawful sexual intercourse. There were 1,983 crimes committed to obtain property in 2015. Those are 214 cases of robbery, 742 cases of burglary and 1,027 theft. In 2016 there were 1,889 crimes committed to obtain property. Those include 232 robberies, 800 burglaries and 857 reports of theft.

Violent crimes against people increased by 6.4 percent in 2016. There were 19 more murders, an increase of 16 percent. Major crimes to obtain property decreased by 4.7 percent when comparing 2016 and 2015. There were increases in robberies and burglaries of 8.4 percent and 7.8 percent respectively. There was a noticeable decrease in incidents of theft, by 16.6 percent.

There were 41 murders in Belize City in 2015 and 41 in 2016. There were 59 murders in Belize City in 2014. That is a decrease of 30.5 percent.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2017 15:37
 
Agassi Finnegan on Being Called to the Bar Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

Seven years, 4 months ago I embarked on a journey in which I knew nothing about or what to expect. I left the comfort and security of my home, my parents, family and friends and travelled to a new country in order to pursue what would become one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. Having left at the tender and formative age of eighteen, the first time being on my own, I honestly did not know what was to come.  Lucky enough for me, I was at all times reassured that in spirit and thought, my family and friends were always with me along for the ride and that a phone call was all that was needed to have them right beside me.

Upon the commencement of my study, I quickly realized that the saying ‘no man is an island’ was one of the biggest lessons I would leave the Caribbean with. There were days when I did not want to continue, and all I wanted to do was to pack my bags and return home, but, I was motivated by the thought that I had people back home who depended on my success, who wanted to see me achieve all my heart ever desired, who had put their confidence in me, and likewise on the other hand I had people who wanted to see me fail, an entire radio station at that, who spent much of their time, trying to figure out amongst themselves what my grades were like and when I would be back proving that I was far from worthy of the accolades that the profession bestows. I knew that if nothing else, I had to 1) make those who wished me well, proud and 2) prove those who doubted my abilities, wrong.

Getting this far was no easy task, it took countless hours of preparation, studying, and it encompassed days of crying, fear and most of all the incessant need for comradeship.

Ellie Burrows said and I quote “There is no greater honor than supporting someone’s growth and evolution as a human being” and to me no truer words have been said.

So I start by saying the biggest of thank you to my support team. The people you see sitting in this room today are all a part of me and they each play or have played a very special and important role in molding me into who I am today. They have all been present throughout the years, whether it be from childhood or now in the early years of my career and as such, the honor bestowed on me today, is not only mine, but shared equally amongst them.

Mom, Dad, Max, Mr. & Mrs Usher, Becks, Lu, I especially thank you all for always answering the phone, for always being there whether via facetime or some other social media platform, you just don’t know how comforting it was just hearing your voice or seeing your face after a long day at school. Being away from home for the first time was an experience, lonely days and lonely nights coupled with a river of tears, but Mom and Dad, you both ensured that I always felt included and that I was never truly missing out on the family drama at Goldson Avenue. Dad, I am forever grateful every day for the decision you made in November of 2009, to leave me in Jamaica, despite my cries to bring me home, when I thought all hope was lost and that I was not capable of completing my legal exams or to send mom in the alternative to sit with me whilst I sat them. You created this strong woman that stands before you, who is ready to face any obstacle that comes her way.

Jeremy, thank you for debating with me, for keeping me on my p’s and q’s you have allowed me room to hone my skills. Thank you for always believing in me and for being one of the biggest cheerleaders in the stand, even when I myself has vacated the building.

To my friends, thank you…we made unforgettable memories in Barbados, and thereafter in Jamaica. Long night study sessions, the many ‘but what ifs’ in answering past papers, the monopoly that went oh so wrong thanks for Mr. Owusu’s real property lesson and who could forget Mr. Chicken and Briana’s torturous love which eventually led to the poor thing running very far away, the genius suggestion from Jaime, Mr. Wilson v Jones himself, and of course the many Sunbeam caucuses which started early evening and drove well into the morning at the self-proclaimed Belizean Embassy.
We all weathered storms together and without you all, college would not have been as enjoyable as it was. As I mention the word weather, I’m immediately reminded of Freddy’s brilliant ‘Hurricane Halloween party’, which thinking about it, was a true life lesson, “only some will stay when the going gets tough”.

Jaraad, Brandon, Briana, WUFY, thank you for always being there, Jamaica had its own trials and tribulations and without the three of you, I don’t think I could have survived it. To Jaraad especially, thanks for running away and leaving me there when the cow came running up the street, that day I learnt that height isn’t everything and scaling a fence isn’t that bad.

Jaime, Rav, Lionel, and the rest of the gang that was present on study nights, I truly believe that all our late night study sessions, numerous trips to eddies and the gas station and of course, Lionel’s attempt at showing us where the sun rise, all contributed to my success. 

Fun and jokes aside, it is most important that I thank the people of the Mesopotamia division, Hon. Patrick Faber and by extension the Government of Belize, for giving me the opportunity to show to them that I am worthy and able and that the investment made in my education was not done in vain. I must also thank Hon. Peyrifitte, for giving me the opportunity to do my internship under his tutelage, for taking me to the prison and giving me real life advice in dealing with clients on the criminal side. Similarly, I must thank Mr. Hawke and the entire Litigation Department at the Attorney General’s Ministry for showing me the ropes and for always being available to discuss any pressing legal questions that may arise.

This having been said, I am now here on the special day and we have all made it. As I said, the journey to get here was not easy and I don’t expect the path ahead to be any different, I have every intention to always make each and every one of you, proud, that you’ve had a hand in molding me into who I am. In that spirit and in furthering my objectives and growth within my profession, I will at all times ensure that I maintain the dignity and integrity of my profession and also make an earnest effort to remind and encourage those within our fraternity that they too must strive to do the same, no matter the circumstances that they may face. I will also ensure that I carry myself whether in private or otherwise, in a manner which is becoming of the profession and which may also someday inspire another young Belizean to enter into this noble profession, just as I was inspired to do so years ago by Uncle Denys, Uncle BQ, and Uncle Rich. I will at all times strive to act professionally whilst ensuring that my thoughts, my words, my actions are guided by ethical principles reserved for the practice of law. I will also ensure that I make myself available, to answer questions, to hold discussions or to just simply bounce an idea off of, just as Mr. Lindo, Mr. Lumor, Mr. Smith, Ms. Pitts, have done for me.  To always ensure that I do my part in building the public’s confidence in and understanding of our judicial system. To try as best as is reasonably possible to never deny anyone access to the legal system, to be mindful that each and every person is entitled to equal access and as such if someone were to cross my path that is in earnest need and cannot afford the services offered, that there should be no hesitation on my part to render assistance where possible. I will also try as best as I can to emulate my mom, in keeping God first in all decisions I make.

Lastly and most importantly, I will always do my best to remember that each and every case that I am privileged to be a part of, is not about securing remuneration, it is not soley about that dollar figure, nor is it about winning, but it is about ensuring that justice is done each and every time, and if that end goal has been accomplished, I should be satisfied that my job has been done.
Once again, thank you all for the support.

 

 
Is Briceño playing the fool? Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

On Tuesday night's newscast on Channel 7 which was airing a repeat of what he had told CTV-3, Johnny Briceno had the audacity to call the super bond a 'UDP super bond.' Anyone with any sense who was looking on must have been left slacked jawed at Briceno's assertion. It seems he has completely forgotten that it was the PUP who came up with the super bond with that massive conglomeration of PUP debts which came into being in February of 2007.

While that was bad enough, even worse were his statements on Friday, January 13th, following the House Meeting. When questioned on how he would deal with what was taking place with the judgments as a result of the Accommodation Agreement and NEWCO he simply could not answer. He would turn on to the lame excuse that he was not informed.

Imagine the leader of the opposition not informed as to what is taking place! His simple excuse was: "I don't have all the information. My immediate emotional response was to be like 'well then we don't want to pay'. But until I can see all the information and get the best legal advice to advise him, I can't answer."

Jules Vasquez would then go on to ask what he would do and here is what Briceno said: "I would like to say that I would not pay, but I don't have the information Jules. As much as I would want to give you a direct answer, until I can get all the information I cannot make the decision. Personally I would love for us not to pay, but until I can get all the information and get the best legal advice, I cannot give you a direct answer."

Does Briceno really think the Belizean people are fools. He knows fully well that the Super Bond is a making of his government when he was the Deputy Prime Minister. He also knows fully well that if the PUP were in office they would not have gone to litigation over the Accommodation Agreement because his family were actually beneficiaries to that agreement. What's more, under the PUP they would have just allowed for the Accommodation Agreement to run its course and allow for Ashcroft interests to bleed the country dry. Based on how Briceno is behaving we are left with no option but to think that he is just playing the fool. That definitely is no way to be behaving, especially because he has ambitions to be the leader of this country.

 
Francis Fonseca must apologize to Hon. Godwin Hulse Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:00

Failed PUP Leader Francis Fonseca must apologize to Senator Godwin Hulse for wrongfully accusing him of participating in the Won Hong Kim passport scandal. Fonseca was most likely attempting to get political mileage out of former UDP Area Rep Elvin Penner, trying to paint the entire UDP Administration black.

Back in October 2013, when he was still the Opposition Leader, he and other senior members of his party held a press conference to try to swing public support. It was not very effective, but they certainly made a strong effort, following the revelation that Penner, who was an elected UDP politician, and the junior Minister of Immigration, facilitated the creation of a fraudulent passport and nationality for South Korean fugitive Won-Hong Kim.

In that press conference, Fonseca and the PUP tried to spread the taint of that embarrassing episode to as many UDP Ministers as he could. In so doing, he libeled Godwin Hulse when he suggested that Hulse was somehow involved. That was the furthest thing from the truth, but ignoring the fact that he had no proof, Fonseca publicly made those comments, and Hulse sued him for it.

The case management ran its course before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, and on Thursday, January 19, Hulse’s attorney, Yohannseh Cave, was to have started presenting arguments to prove that Fonseca defamed him. Instead of doing that, the attorneys told the Chief Justice that they have agreed on an out-of-court settlement. Fonseca has agreed to make a retraction of his unfair comments, and he will apologize for injuring Hulse’s character. He will not have to pay damages, but he will have to pay $3,000 court costs to Hulse’s attorney. That retraction and apology will be printed in 3 national newspapers.

Trying to explain away why Fonseca decided to apologize, his attorney, Kareem Musa, told the press that he had litigation risks to consider. That’s only 2 months after Musa claimed that they were going to defend on the grounds of fair comment, and that the words spoken were true. Fonseca may have been considering the uncertainty of litigation which could take unexpected twists. It could be that, or it more likely could be that he was aware that he would have lost the case because he had no proof of what he alleged.

 


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