Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019. 5:46 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Kenneth Benjamin has issued a rare, but civil response to the recent affair involving Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who called out Justice Courtney Abel for dismissive, approaching rude, treatment of the Government’s representatives in court, the Attorney General and Solicitor General’s offices respectively.
Prime Minister Barrow said he had made a formal complaint to the Chief Justice following a recent court decision in which Justice Abel ruled against the Government on the matter of taxes being withheld by the Belize Bank Limited to satisfy the outstanding Universal Health Services debt, which Government intends to appeal.
The statement released this afternoon reminds that the Constitution grants the Supreme Court “unlimited jurisdiction to adjudicate on any civil or criminal matter” and that the Justices are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law conscientiously, impartially, without fear or favour, and knowing that their decisions are open to review in superior courts, including in relation to the unfairness of the court’s process.
The Chief Justice reminds that the Judiciary is still doing its job of delivering and improving justice in Belize. While conceding that judges are not exempt from public criticism, it warns that the Bar must respect the Bench as much as the Bench respects the Bar and the public.
While making no mention of the complaint outstanding against Justice Abel, the court notes that it will accept and investigate with due process any judicial conduct reported to the Chief Justice in writing, along with the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.
For his part, the Prime Minister said he felt compelled to make the public remarks after hearing the remonstrations of Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte and his colleagues in office.///
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