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Supreme Court grants interim injunction stopping payments to stevedores

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Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022. 8:53 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman this afternoon restrained the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) from making further payments to its stevedore membership pending hearing on March 16 via interim injunction.

Junior counsel Hector Guerra, instructed by Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith, explained that the CWU’s decision flouted court process and was a “disrespect and affront to justice”: “On Friday, there was a hearing in which all parties to this matter were represented by legal counsel. At that hearing, the matter was adjourned until today and so all parties, including the CWU were aware that our clients, PBL and [Mister] Arturo Vasquez, would have been amending their injunction application to now direct it at the CWU as a result of the fact that government had gone ahead to distribute those funds to the CWU. Of course, with that knowledge it appears, or at least certain representations were made as to the distribution of those funds.”

Guerra added that the Union was of course well aware that the application was pending which specifically sought to enjoin the CWU from distribution, but no evidence has yet been put before the court concerning the legality of the CWU’s actions and its culpability.

Nonetheless, the court granted the injunction and according to Guerra, that is necessary: “We think it’s crucial if justice is to be done in this case that the distribution be enjoined because we say, it is our fundamental position in this case that those monies were paid without the requisite parliamentary approval as required by the constitution which is the highest law of the land.”

And while today’s injunction restrains the union, Guerra argues that it is not really about them: “[The case] is really about upholding the constitution which is the highest law of the land and ensuring that any monies which are spent from the public purse to which all Belizeans through the taxes we pay contribute, we’re trying to ensure that those monies are only spent with the requisite parliamentary approval and that is all that this case is about. It has nothing to do with personalities, instead it has to do with upholding the Constitution of Belize.”

If parliamentary approval is granted by the next sitting of the House, Guerra said they would have to reconsider, though he granted that they have their own views and would prefer not to air those before the hearing.

The matter has been adjourned to March sixteenth at 9:30 a.m. The attorneys for the CWU are Darrell Bradley and Magali Perdomo.

 

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