Open letter to Belize’s Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition
Posted: Saturday, June 17, 2017. 10:15 a.m. CST.
The Rt. Honorable, Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
The Honorable, Johnny Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
Belizean Citizens Abroad (BCA) is an organization committed to bringing together Belizeans living abroad in a non-partisan manner. Our goal is to empower and strengthen the democracy of Belize by working with ALL Belizeans at home as well as the Government of Belize on solutions and issues of concern to the community of Belizeans living overseas. As such, we are currently advocating for the equal rights of born Belizeans with dual citizenship.
We are asking for bi-partisan support for an amendment bill to remove the discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limiting the citizenship rights of born Belizeans who gain dual nationality and to reintroduce the same amendments as section 4 and 5 of the BELIZE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTH AMENDMENT) ACT, 2009 that purported to amend Sec 58(1) and 63(1) of the Belize Constitution. These discriminatory provisions in our Constitution limit the POLITICAL rights of born Belizeans and hampers our ability to solve many of the problems that Belize face in an ever-changing globalized world.
The Constitution of Belize contradicts the idealism of equal rights and equal protection under the law by establishing underclasses of citizenship. Furthermore, the Constitution is in contravention of the very idea of human rights. According to the United Nations Human Rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 25 – every citizen shall have a right to take part in the conduct of public affairs and to vote and be elected in periodic elections.
It is a travesty that foreign-born individuals who become Belizean dual citizens have more rights than born Belizeans who gain an additional citizenship. This literally means that born Belizeans are second-class citizens in our own country. Currently, there are thousands of born Guatemalans who have acquired Belizean citizenship enjoying more rights than born Belizeans who have acquired dual nationality. This is so even though our Constitution bars Belizean citizenship to members of any country that claims Belize. How can it be that despite a clear constitutional prohibition, a born Guatemalan with dual Belizean citizenship status can become Prime Minister, set policies, hold national decision-making positions determining Belize’s future, but a born Belizean with “dual citizenship” cannot?
BCA is ready and willing to work with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to table a historic, bi-partisan legislation to remove sections of the Constitution that limit rights for born Belizeans. We further ask that individuals originating from any country that claims any part of Belize be prohibited from attaining Belizean citizenship with only few, if any, exceptions. BCA strongly believes that the ministerial discretion granting citizenship to members of countries that claim Belize should be restricted with much clearer and narrower guidelines.
Finally, we urge Belizeans at home and in the diaspora to contact their respective Area Representatives and encourage them to support a national bi-partisan effort to amend the Constitution of Belize protecting the equal rights of ALL born Belizeans.
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