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Attorney General responds to National Association of Justices of the Peace

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Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte, today, responded to comments made by President of the National Association of Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of the Supreme Court, Adrian Madrid. Madrid expressed disappointment at Peyrefitte’s absence during the Association’s annual general meeting held over the weekend in Belize City. Madrid told Love News, Peyrefitte’s absence prevented them from appointing Justices of the Peace and Senior Justices of the Peace. Peyrefitte explained that his Ministry was not satisfied with the list of persons the Association wanted to appoint as Justices of the Peace.

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL

“First of all I am not obligated to be there, there is no law that mandates me to an association meeting. It is a private association it has nothing to do with the Attorney General’s Ministry. They did invite me to the Association. They did want me to give an opening address and at the same time, they also wanted me to swear in some JP’s and Senior JP’s. We were not satisfied with the list that they sent. We wanted to clean up the list and we did not want anybody to go there expecting to be sworn in and then they were not sworn in. so what we did we indicated to the JP association to go ahead, have their meeting if they want because it’s their association and then we would swear in the people at another time. I don’t have to be at the association meeting. I am not mandated to be there so I cannot see what the difficulty was with me not being there and as far as JP’s getting paid, if Mr. Madrid is aware of that, why hasn’t he reported to me as to the people who are getting paid, with the evidence of them being paid, so we can deal with them,. We already dealt with some of them on our own if we knew about that why does he have to wait for a JP Association meeting to tell me that. Why couldn’t he tell me that before?”

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

Sir, you mentioned that the Ministry wasn’t satisfied with the list. Is it because some of these JP’s on the list are not qualified?

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL

“Right because then in some cases there had people write on their behalf why they should be JP’s but they themselves have not written or given letters to indicate why they deserve to be JP’s and as well we have to many JP’s as is and we cannot just simply be appointing everybody and anybody who wants to be one. They have to be people who are known and well renown in their communities and as far as Senior JP’s are concerned you have to have demonstrated that since you are a JP that you have done extensive work and then from there you can be qualified to be a Senior JP. It’s not something that we can just wantonly do I  am also supporting Mr. Madrid because then he is already accustomed to the Ministry or to whichever parties in government to just sanction whatever he does. That is not the case with me he is allowed of course to put forward the people who he wants to be JP’s and Senior JP’s. It is not automatic, not everybody puts to me I will swear in because we have to do our own vetting. If he is disappointed in that then he is going to have to be disappointed because I have to do my job.”

Peyrefitte says that a Crown Counsel in the Attorney General’s Ministry has the specific responsibility of dealing with the appointment of Justices of the Peace.

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL

“The ones we believe to be qualified to be sworn in will be sworn in and those people can be sworn in separate and apart from the Association. They don’t have to come through the association. People are under the impression that the Association must sanction you before you are sworn in and that is just simply not the case. The association has nothing to do with the Ministry and according to the law it’s the Attorney General that swears the JP’s and Senior JP’s not the association. Going forward, I still look forward to our working relationship with the association.  I still look forward to ensuring the proper people who want to be JPs and Senior JPs are appointed. I don’t have any issue with Mr. Madrid and maybe he was just frustrated because he didn’t get what he wanted over the weekend and he vented on the news but I won’t take it personally. That’s not what I do, but he has to understand that there is a process and if that process is not followed then his people who he proposed will not be sworn in.”

The association members also discussed the lack of training for JP’s.

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