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Arguments begin for interim injunction to halt April 10 referendum 

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Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019. 2:40 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Arguments are underway at the Supreme Court of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin concerning the upcoming ICJ referendum. 

Six parliamentarians, represented by Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, are asking for an interim injunction to postpone the referendum. 

The Special Agreement under which the referendum is being held, Courtenay argues, is a process which is irreversible and has a life of its own. The Government (Executive) is empowering the ICJ to alter the Constitution potentially which is against the separation of powers. 

The Special Agreement, under Articles 2, 5, and 7, basically gives the ICJ the right to determine Belize’s boundaries. If we vote yes, the boundaries would be precisely determined and Schedule 1 to the Constitution would have to be amended. 

Even if we were to lose any territory, the ruling is final and binding and would be accepted by all countries even if we don’t change our laws. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, who signed on Belize’s behalf in December of 2008, could not bind Belize to Special Agreement without legislative  (i.e. House of Representatives) support. Courtenay cites cases from India and Slovenia as well as the Article 50 trigger by the United Kingdom against the European Union. 

The court asked if Parliament has a say over amending the Constitution if they can choose otherwise; Courtenay said yes and that is worrying.

He also contends that the agreement is being implemented as a matter of fact without legislative backing.

The case continues at the moment and Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman will lead the Government’s response.

A crowd mostly composed of opponents of the referendum is gathered in Battlefield Park awaiting the decision. /// 

 

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