Posted: Monday, January 12, 2015. 3:33 pm CST.
Monday, January 12, 2015. AARON HUMES Reporting: Belize’s legal leaders have promised a year of reform designed to correct longstanding abuses and difficulties in the judicial process.
According to Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, a number of initiatives is in process to address such issues as juvenile justice, the conditions of the court, the lengthy time of remand for criminal cases, practice of attorneys in both civil and criminal jurisdiction among other things.
Chief among these is the planned implementation of new Criminal Procedure Rules which will both assist the courts in creating conditions suitable to obtain justice while also respecting the rights and freedoms of persons under its jurisdiction.
In addition to physical and personal development the court in conjunction with the police department is moving towards modernizing the system of taking caution statements by introducing recording technology at all police stations countrywide. This is expected to be funded by the Central American Regional Security Initiative, CARSI maintained by the U.S. Department of State.
Courtrooms in Punta Gorda and San Ignacio are being renovated and there are plans for proposed renovations to the courts in Belize City.
President of the Bar Association Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay raised critical issues including the failure of the General Legal Counsel to meet for over a year to address issues related to complaints over attorneys’ service.
More critically he noted that in the most recent Court of Appeal session all criminal appeal cases were traversed and few civil appeals were heard having failed to get the attention of authorities.
Courtenay says the Bar Association had resolved to make the matter public and to take, in his words, other drastic and dramatic actions on which he declined to elaborate.
Courtenay also mentioned that the association had contributed significantly to proposed reforms in the judicial system despite the campaign by the government for attorneys to disassociate themselves from the institution.
In reply Attorney General Wilfred Elrington noted the renewed commitment of the Association and suggested that he might renew his membership there.
On a more serious note he said the government intervention in alleviating the state of affairs with regard to members of the judiciary being compensated to leave their private practice to work in the courts is being looked at.
He reminded the gathering of the sermon by Methodist minister Reverend Roosevelt Pappoloutte who this morning urged that judicial officers to “render justice speedily and lovingly.”
Elringotn added that there can be no sustainable peace and development in Belize without justice.
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