“I am not giving up!” Senator Shoman tells Amandala
The Senate is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, to discuss four bills approved by the House of Representatives last Thursday: they are amendments to the Belize Criminal Code, as well as a suite of amendments to the Nationality, Passport and Immigration laws — brought about as a consequence of a pounding wave of scandals surrounding the issuance of Belizean visas and nationality.
While these items are on Wednesday’s agenda, a motion submitted by Opposition People’s United Party Senator Lisa Shoman is not.
Shoman told Amandala that she was advised by the National Assembly late Friday that the President of the Senate, Marco Pech, has signaled that the motion can’t be entertained, because it is the same motion which was proposed to Parliament on November 6th and subsequently defeated.
In that vote, the 6 government senators voted against the motion, while the 3 social partners and the 3 Opposition senators voted for the motion, calling for a special investigation into the visa and passport scandal. Pech had lodged the 13th vote which broke the tie.
Last week, the Opposition announced that Shoman would table a second motion, this time calling for ruling party Senator Godwin Hulse to recuse himself, since he would now be named as one of the persons to be subject to interrogation as a part of the proposed Senate inquiry.
Shoman said that the new motion names, apart from Hulse, Auditor General Dorothy Bradley and the Director of Immigration Maria Marin, as persons for interrogation. However, since the proposed motion is being rejected, more persons would be added to the list of public officers to be called before the Senate.
Shoman said that she will submit a motion calling for the Senate inquiry in January 2014, and she will reframe it in such a way that the President will have no choice but to say it is not the same motion.
After the vote on the motion, Shoman had signaled that they may pursue court redress; however, she told us today that while they have not ruled out that option, they are hoping that Parliament will eventually give way to the special investigation.
On Wednesday, the Senate’s focus will be on legislative reforms which the Barrow administration has proposed in the wake of the passport/visa scandal.
“I will deal with each piece of legislation individually and go through the drawbacks and shortcomings. They are nothing more than what in the Caribbean would be called ‘Cover Benjamims,’” Shoman told us.
She said that Government is trying to fix the problem when the problem has already gotten away from them, citing recent media reports of a foreigner who was able to get a birth certificate in one day and a passport the next day.
“We are going to continue bringing the motion until the government deals with it,” the Senator told us.