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Ex-P.M. Barrow raises alarm over 11th Amendment: “Don’t put anything past this Government”

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dean barrow pm of belize

Posted: Monday, July 5, 2021. 10:51 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The debate over the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, read a first time in the House of Representatives on Friday, rages on.

Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow, whose son is now-Leader of the Opposition in the House Moses “Shyne” Barrow, called in to United Democratic Party radio station WAVE Radio’s morning show before the House met on Friday, expressing disbelief that his successors would consider such disenfranchisement, and even warning that his own son could be forced to vacate his current seat.

In the elder Barrow’s interpretation of the Constitution, which currently expressly prohibits persons under sentence of death, or of imprisonment on any felony, suspended or not, for longer than 12 months, from being qualified to be a member of the House, a member may vacate his seat if “while you are there, something arises which if you had not been a member would have disqualified you from membership” – like a criminal conviction.

He foresees the Government arguing, if the Amendment is passed, that those who have at any time served a prison sentence longer than a year, which would ordinarily disqualify anyone from even running, can be forced out if, like Shyne, they have run for office and won – i.e., the Amendment has retroactive effect.

“The argument will be that – anything that arises, one would have to argue well this is not just now arising, this already happened in the past, but I am saying that it is ambiguous enough, it is open-ended enough that don’t put anything past the government,” the elder Barrow said.

Such a law would effectively disenfranchise, he added, even those who committed a serious crime “almost out of necessity” and worked to turn their lives around. He concluded, “It is absolutely outrageous. It is an act of war against marginalized people.”

Barrow also cited the cases of Philip Goldson, a newspaperman turned trained attorney who was cited at the start of the nationalist movement for subversive activity and served jail time. But a Constitutional Ordinance at the time as opposed to the current Constitution would have been in effect. Barrow also noted Evan X Hyde – charged separately for housebreaking and seditious conspiracy but acquitted in both cases – ran for office in the House, for the City Council and ultimately served as a Senator. Again, those alleged offences took place before the 1981 Constitution was promulgated.

We have also spoken extensively to Shyne and we will have his comments later on.

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