Who is Above the Law?
Belizeans need to read the constitution of Belize


Audrey Matura-Shepherd - Belizean activist
Audrey Matura-Shepherd

There is a very disturbing trend in this country that Belizean should take keen interest in and should not sit back and accept; that is; our leaders believe they are entitled to act above the law.  I believe we already have very lenient laws that do not allow us to prosecute them for mis-guided decisions entered into, onerous contracts yoked around our necks, and misappropriation of funds.  But for them to want to outright disobey a court order is very troubling and in no way should we tolerate such a new trend.  But not only are they not willing to obey court orders, but when it is in their power they move to change the law to have things their ways and thus defeat said law.  I know some Belizeans feel that to do so is okay and the ends justifies the means, but I can assure you that to set such standards is incredibly dangerous as when that same standard is applied to every situation the results may be more than we as a nation bargained for.

I may be naïve, but I still believe that we can do the right thing and still move progressively ahead. However, the situation gets even more dangerous when government or the state is willing to step aside and allow citizen to do as they please because it meets the agenda of the government.  Case in point is the recent ruling by Justice Legall declaring six offshore oil contracts “unlawful, null and void” and granting an injunction against the government and its agents and servants from proceeding with the execution of the said contracts.  Rather than relieving their gripe against the ruling before a court and the government indicating to the oil companies that they cannot do anything under a contract (PSA) that has been declared UNLAWFUL, no other than the honorable Prime Minister remarks: “since the PSAs were as I say not quashed, that’s for the concession holder to determine whether it will proceed with whatever activity it was doing under the PSA .”

To me that amounts to relinquishment of state responsibility and promotion of violation of our laws, that can only lead to the violation of one of the tenements of our Constitution so eloquently stated in our constitution:

“WHEREAS the people of Belize ….(d) recognise that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and upon the rule of law..”

It is not the tail that should wag the dog but the dog that should wag the tail and when the highest leader in our country instead of warning the oil companies that they must respect the ruling and finding of the court, publicly says to them ‘it is up to them to determine how they proceed…’ well we walking into very dark days.

But the trend seems to have even trickled down to the Belize City Council, where Mayor Bradley equally after agreeing to a consent order in the Supreme Court, before Justice Oswell Legall, acceding that Coye’s Funeral home had a right to work at the city cemeteries, he is now refusing to obey said order!  But if the attorneys don’t lead by example and demand that all, even them, act above the law… how can we expect any other ordinary citizens to obey the law?

Knowing the Constitution

Now moving to our supreme law, the Belize Constitution, I think it is imperative that Belizeans take time out to read their Constitution.  As a matter of fact, each child from standard one up, should be taught the contents and meaning of the provisions of the Belize Constitution.  Our education system has failed us in that respect, and sadly I did not learn about the Constitution of Belize until I did my paralegal studies under the able tutelage of Michel Chebat, one of my contemporaries.   Learning that we had so many rights inspired me to want to continue my legal studies, but even as I learnt more I then felt I must share what I know and thus my constant writing on these issues.

In the past 3 years Belizeans have been forced to know and discuss our Constitution more and more, but  many lost as to its importance and brilliance, attack it… but with time I am confident all will see that it is a fairly well-crafted document seeking to bring balance and good governance, if we can only learn to obey it rather than violate it.

To me one of the most frightening experiences in recent time was when the Ninth (now Eight) Amendment was being debated, and learned attorneys with political blinders on, kept arguing that Section 2 (two), which declares the Constitution to be the SUPREME Law of this county, were prepared to support the proposed amendment to derogate from such supremacy.  But what many don’t know is that when this Amendment was challenged in court Government’s position was defeated. Gladly mine, like those of a few other attorneys,  who agreed that the amendment was unconstitutional, was exonerated.

I wish Belizeans would have an interest in reading these things.  But here is a bit of what the judge said: “The separation of powers doctrine and the basic structure doctrine are also violated by section 2 and 3 above of the Eighth Amendment, as these sections seek to prevent the court from holding such other law as contrary to the Constitution, (section 2) and from holding that limitation exists outside section 69, on the amending powers of the National Assembly, limitation such as the basic structure of the Constitution.”  The judge concludes that said section was void.

What many may not realize is that by this ruling the Section 2, reverts to the old version and thank God this tyranny was stopped.  Now, I understood that the sale pitch for Ninth (turned Eight) Amendment was sweetly packaged since everyone seems to now hate Ashcroft, for many reasons.  Therefore, so very few were paying attention to the “puss” being packaged in the bag and so did not realize the magnitude of what they were agreeing to give up.

Privacy and Morality

Now moving to the issues of morals being determined by law, I must again exhort Belizeans to study the Constitution because it governs every aspect of our life and even the moral aspect of our life in Belize. Those who openly want to promote immorality will seek to interpret the Constitution liberally to suit their means, but one must never forget that the Constitution has built in safety nets to ensure that morals of the society are not be easily done away with.

You see, as the debate about gay rights receives much public attention and discourse much has been made about the two key principles, i.e. privacy and consent.  But like all other principles in law, privacy has its exception keeping in mind the interest and right of other citizens and responsibility of each and the state.  So a read of the Constitution Section 14 dealing with privacy is relevant:

14.-(1) A person shall not be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. The private and family life, the home and the personal correspondence of every person shall be respected.

That section goes on to make it clear that if there is a law that derogates from your right to privacy, that law cannot be held to be inconsistent with your right once it makes “provision of the kind specified in subsection (2) of section 9 of this Constitution.”  An then Section 9 (2) reads:

9(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes reasonable provision- (a) that is required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality,….”

Now this is found in the Constitution and the Constitution saw it fit to make it clear that while you have a right to privacy, said right ends once there is need to look after the interest of the nation on several fronts, Public morality being one of them.  So don’t let any ghost fool you that you can do as you please in privacy and to hell with the rest of the world.  Your right to privacy ends, where by your society’s standard it infringes on the public morality in place.  So now the question to answer is whether our morals have changed so much that we are now prepared to accept all the new age, liberal theories.  I Am over 40 years and I have seen television impose whole new social standards and morals… not to my liking, but as a citizen I have never been asked by our leaders if that is what I want to accept as the new norm…. that is because the new imperial power and colonizer is the media beams we accept into our homes from the North!

It was interesting to note the level of interest and support the US Government has given to UNIBAM, to the extent that they were well represented in the court room.  But then again they have removed God from their schools, public places, homes and if they can remove him from their churches I guess they would.  Hollywood’s influence is equally bombarding!  And lazy parents allow TV to babysit their children unaware at the level of the worldly messages they are assimilating and acting out….

In the Preamble of the Constitution there is the following” WHEREAS the people of Belize …. (e) require policies of state which protect the identity, dignity and social and cultural values of Belizeans,..”  This simply means that whatever the values we promote in our social life with each other it must reflect the values of Belizeans.  If the leaders are not sure then they must hold a referendum or use some scientific measure to know if Belize is indeed part of the new world liberalism.

In Conclusion….sex with animals

Some so-call developed societies are so liberal that sexual immorality is the order of the day. The irony with the US is that it’s okay to promote promiscuity, but when the politicians do it they are removed from office.  It is easier to accept a gay politician than an adulterous one… what irony!

Section 53 Criminal Code of Belize also makes sexual intercourse with animals, called bestiality, a crime.  The thought of it upsets my stomach but I hoped that no civilized society would even consider making that the norm.  But then again who would have expected that same sex intercourse could become the declared norm?  To my surprise I read about bestiality already being legal in other countries, and that was the next obvious move following the decriminalizing of sodomy.  I pray we NEVER go that far!  But here I share the BBC November 2012 report on the matter:

“Germany legalised bestiality (zoophilia) in 1969, except when the animal suffered “significant harm”.  But animal rights groups have campaigned for a change in the law and Hans-Michael Goldmann, the head of the parliamentary committee investigating the new amendment, told the Tageszeitung  … “With this explicit ban, it will be easier to impose penalties and to improve animal protection.”  A fine of up to 25,000 euros (£20,000) is proposed if someone forces an animal to commit “actions alien to the species”. But Michael Kiok, the chairman of the pressure group Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information (Zeta), said he was going to take legal action to fight the proposed changes.  “It is unthinkable that any sexual act with an animal is punished without proof that the animal has come to any harm,” he said, adding that animals are capable of showing what they do, or do not, want to do.  “We see animals as partners and not as a means of gratification. We don’t force them to do anything. Animals are much easier to understand than women,” Mr Kiok claimed.”

So now that they want to regulate it and make moves to ban it, they are meeting grave opposition.  But don’t take it from me go on line and search for the various reports on this story.  However, I must add that bestiality is permissible in Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, though Stockholm is considering a change in the legislation to going back to criminalizing it.  It will eventually be declared that as part of your right to sexual choice and dignity and equal treatment, sex with an animal is a Constitutionally upheld human right… yes imagine the possibility!

God I pray that Belize be spared from this next level of depravity… of course after the demand for same sex marriages and adoption is also battled.  God Bless Belize!

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