BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 16, 2017–Amid controversy over his appointment—with the latest public objection coming from the militant Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU)—Franz Parke was today appointed as Justice of Appeal for the Belize Court of Appeal for a 5-year term.
The appointment comes notwithstanding a claim filed last week by the Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party, Johnny Briceño, to have the Belize Supreme Court declare his appointment null and void on the claim that his appointment violates the Belize Constitution – the highest law of the land.
In a press release issued on Friday, October 13, the BNTU said that its council of management had unanimously agreed with the objection previously raised by the Belize Bar Association.
“In the matter of Mr. Parke’s appointment, the BNTU finds it rather odd that there seems to be a clear violation with regards to his qualification for this esteemed post,” the BNTU said.
It adds that under Section 101 of the Constitution, two points are made: (1) that the appointee, in this case, Parke, must have held a position as judge in a part of the Commonwealth for not less than the past 15 years, and (2) that the post requires a high caliber of qualification and experience for one to fill it.
The BNTU notes that Parke last served the Commonwealth in Jamaica and that was for the period 1975 to 1980 – 10 years shy of the constitutional requirement. It also said that Parke spent much of his career working as an accountant/auditor – which raises many questions regarding his qualification and experience for the post of Justice of the Court of Appeal.
The BNTU also questions the Prime Minister’s motive for insisting to have Parke appointed despite the objections raised by the Opposition on the matter, suggesting a friendly relationship between Barrow and Parke as the reason for his selection.
“We also dare ask, how extensive is our Prime Minister’s relationship with this individual?” the BNTU probes.
The BNTU closed its statement by expressing its solidarity with the Bar Association of Belize and calling on Prime Minister Dean Barrow to reconsider his position.
We asked BNTU president Elena Smith whether the union is considering joining the Briceño claim as an interested party, but she told us that the union has not yet discussed that option. She did indicate that the union had considered writing the Governor-General before the formal appointment by him, but had not done so. They instead opted on Friday to issue a public appeal to Prime Minister Barrow, since, according to Smith, the appointment instrument had already been finalized.