On Monday Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the UDP administration will go to the House of Representatives to enact some new piece of legislation which they feel will justify their seizing the private utility BTL for a second time. All legal pontificating aside, the long and short of the matter is that the highest Court in the land, the Belize Court of Appeal, ruled that the Government broke the law when it hijacked BTL in August of 2009. So the government decided to just make a new law to make their wrongdoing right. Its unprecedented in Belize and has resulted in a fiery debate which is really only beginning. The Prime Minister has also implemented an intensive, emotional but hardly factual propaganda campaign, at taxpayer expense of course, to convince Belizeans that he is doing it for us. Barrow has pushed the issue of ignoring an order of the Court to one side and is now beating the nationalistic drum for all it is worth. But take away all the hysterical hype, patriotic fervor, anti-Ashcroft rhetoric and fancy talk and the facts of the case still remain. Former UDP Attorney-General Hubert Elrington was on Channel 5s Open Your Eyes show yesterday and had no problem getting to the crux of the matter.

wilfredHubert Elrington Former UDP Attorney General

“I was an Attorney General there was a time when the P.U.P’s after one of the elections created a television program called our turn and they wanted to put it on the airwaves and I said absolutely not you are not going to do that and they took me to court the whole big gun lawyer’s of the P.U.P but I won. The Court of Appeal held that if they wanted to put on the program they had to follow certain procedures which they had not followed. But if the Court of Appeal had held that I made a mistake in the law as Attorney General of the country I would have been duty bound immediately to obey the order of the court. So this question is first and foremost a question as to whether this administration the cabinet and the Prime Minister understand in the clearest possible terms that they must obey. Whatever may be Mr. Barrow’s position or the Attorney General’s position or anybody’s position, once they arrive at what the Court of Appeal decision means they are duty bound to obey it because it is of the first constitutional importance, nothing is more important in our country, nothing can be more important it is like the death sentence of the country not the death sentence of a person, this raises the spectrum of the death sentence of our country because either we are a country that will govern our country by the rule of law or we are going to try to brush aside eh rule of law and have disrespect for the law.”

Elrington, who is also the brother of UDP Foreign Minister Sedi Elrington, broke it down into even simpler terms.

Hubert Elrington Former UDP Attorney General

“The Court of Appeal has said that what, not the cabinet but what the National Assembly did because what happened here is that the Cabinet which Mr. Barrow leads when tote h National Assembly and said please pass this law acquiring BTL and the National Assembly said ok we will pass the law. But the court after having looked at the law said that the law that was passed is unconstitutional is null and void so there is no law. So that means that BTL is owned by whoever owned it at the time. The government had no ownership of BTL under that law they got nothing in other words the made a blunder, they made a mistake. Maybe they honestly believed that they had acquired it but the court said no you made a mistake. So there was a declaration of ownership so now if I am on this property honestly believing that it is mine and the courts said no it belongs to your neighbour does the court have to do anything else beside telling me that I am on my neighbours property. The court has said to the Government of Belize in the clearest term you are in your neighbour’s property.”

And the notoriously vocal but very experienced and well-respected attorney pulled no punches as he spoke on the decision of the Government to squat on BTL even after the Court ordered them off.

Hubert Elrington Former UDP Attorney General

“Then there second taught they said no we will go back we will stay on our neighbour’s property and we are going to order, this is where it gets criminal in my view, this is where the actions of the cabinet becomes a criminal action in my view. We are going to order the Commissioner of Police and we are going to order the Commandant of the B.D.F to enforce our rights as trespassers. We are trespassers but we are going to use the might of the state of Belize. Now Mr. Barrow cannot use the might of the state of Belize in that way no one can use the might of the state of Belize in that way to enforce a wrong you do that you have to go to jail.”

But while the legal aspect of the matter seems crystal clear to rational minds, according to Elrington there are those who will be swayed by the Prime Ministers lyrics which are just, in a word, NONSENSE.

Hubert Elrington Former UDP Attorney General

“I listen carefully to the Prime Minister, when he was in television, explaining the difference between a declarative judgment and an executive judgement and at the end of it I said to myself I have not heard a lawyer talk so much nonsense in a very, very long while. The whole of that was nonsense but the ordinary man out there is not in a position that’s a load of nonsense Mr. Prime Minister, that’s craziness.”

While Prime Minister Barrow has assured Belizeans that he will fix the problem once and for all come Monday, very few political pundits or observers have been comforted by that claim. Many Belizeans, on the contrary, feel that the repercussions for the nation will be many, and severe.

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