BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 1, 2015–A brief hearing was held in the Supreme Court of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin this morning on the matter of an application filed by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Francis Fonseca, against Prime Minister Dean Barrow, seeking to have the court to order him to sign into law the Statutory Instrument for the installation of a 13th Senator that is enshrined in the 6th Amendment to the Belize Constitution.
Attorneys from both sides, the applicant and the respondent, have agreed that on June 8, the respondent will file an affidavit and then on July 31, both sides will exchange written submissions. The hearing of the case is set for September 30, before the Chief Justice.
Since the 6th Amendment to the Belize Constitution was signed into law, all of the provisions of that law have been enacted, except Sections 7 and 9, which set out how the 13th Senator is to be appointed.
Fonseca noted at a press conference on Wednesday, May 8, when the application was made to the Supreme Court that the 5 years which have elapsed is a long time for the Prime Minister not to have signed the Statutory Instrument to bring into law the 13th Senator.
Under Section 23 of the 6th Amendment, the Prime Minister was required to set a date when he would bring into force all of the provisions of the law.
The 13th Senator, according to the amendment, is to be selected from the non-government organizations.
In 2010, after Prime Minister Barrow had indicated that he was not prepared to sign the Statutory Instrument to bring about the appointment of the 13th Senator, two non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) – Belizeans for Justice and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, (COLA) – filed a lawsuit based upon their expectations that the 13th Senator would have been appointed.
In December 2010, then Supreme Court Justice Samuel Awich ruled against the two NGO’s and the matter had been dormant until the Leader of the Opposition filed his court claim last month.