Latest — 13 February 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Special Agreement (Compromis) to be challenged in court

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Feb. 8, 2019– The Special Agreement (compromis) that was signed between Belize and Guatemala at the urging of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States in December 2008 to settle the Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will soon face a legal challenge in the Supreme Court, which will be asked to rule on its constitutionality, attorney Dickie Bradley confirmed to Amandala today.

Amandala asked Bradley to explain what is at play in terms of the legal challenge that will be launched against the Special Agreement, which was turned into a treaty with Guatemala when it was ratified by the Belize Senate in November 2016.

Bradley said that he was “not at liberty to go into great details,” and to disclose who the claimants are, but court papers will definitely be filed shortly.

“Basically, it is my understanding that there will be a formal legal challenge in relation to the legality, validity of the Special Agreement, and that will happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

“”In terms of the research,” Bradley explained, “all systems are presently on go. The legal research has been checked by more than one attorney.”

“I can just share with your readers the kind of corollary argument, rather than the legal argument that will come shortly,” Bradley added.

“There is a principle in law that a government can sign agreements with other countries and even enter into treaties. That is a part of the role of the executive, so the Minister of Foreign Affairs can sign treaties with other countries. There are, however, some difficulties with certain treaties, and it appears that the Special Agreement is one of those treaties”, Bradley explained.

“As a result of the Special Agreement, Belizeans are being asked to vote in a referendum to take the Guatemalan claim to the International Court of Justice, if you all agree by referendum. That is the only involvement of Belizeans, but if you look at the Special Agreement itself, that is the matter that should have been put to the Belizean people,” he said.

“The Special Agreement also includes that whatever decision is reached by the court is final and binding. The Special Agreement also involves the possibility that the boundaries of Belize can be adjusted by the ICJ, but we don’t have any say in the compromis. The compromis has been signed, sealed and delivered and turned into a treaty. Never mind that it is duly executed; it may turn out that they have no authority to execute such agreement,” Bradley explained.

“You have no say in the outcome of the court’s decision, which is final and binding,” Bradley stressed.

We asked Bradley when the claimants file their petition at the court, what kind of relief or remedy would they be seeking from the court.

“They would be asking the court to declare that the Special Agreement is unlawful and cannot be followed, and they would be seeking other declarative remedies,” Bradley replied.

“The Supreme Court of Belize is dealing with the rights of the citizens of Belize and equally is dealing with the constitutional requirements as to how things are done at certain levels by the government, by the organs of state, by officials of the government. The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to say whether or not the Special Agreement is infringing on certain rights of Belize and the constitutional requirements as it applies to the boundaries and state of Belize,” Bradley said.

“So we are not concerned with the OAS; we are concerned with the Belizean government having involved us, gone about and signed the momentous agreement and went ahead and turned it into a treaty with Guatemala.

“Many Belizeans don’t know that we have signed a treaty with Guatemala. The Special Agreement is a treaty,” Bradley explained finally.

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Deshawn Swasey

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