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Belizean Activist says the Government is Violating his Right to Free Movement

Belizean activist Robert “Bobby,” Lopez says he was denied entry to the Fisheries Department in Belize City because he isn’t vaccinated. When he visited the government department he was not allowed inside to renew his fishing license because he did not have proof of vaccination. Lopez says he informed the employees of the updated COVID-19 regulations that do not require a person to show proof of vaccination to enter a government/public building. A very upset Lopez spoke to Love News.
Robert Lopez, Businessman: Today I’m here at the Fisheries to renew my fishing licence, not commercial, just for pleasure and the security said “Nope, you will have to have a vaccination card” and I said “Well, you know, can I speak to one of your superiors?” So a gentleman came down from the office and said “You need a vaccination card.” My concern is that they’re not offering any alternative to renewing a fishing licence given that 50% of Belizeans are not vaccinated and at this point have, most of them have no intention of getting vaccinated. I’m not vaccinated. My wife is not. We had COVID. We got over COVID. I consider myself with natural immunity and so I’m not going to get vaccinated but you should not disallow me from renewing my licence because what’s going to happen if you catch me out there on the sea fishing without a fishing licence? Now you’re going to penalise me? Imprison me? No man! This is, the minister said last week that we’re returning to the freedoms we have Pre-COVID. I had the freedom to come here and renew my licence for my boat and for my to fish but it seems that we’re not having all the freedoms. In particular, there’s another case with 61 that I have issue with. 61 says, I think it’s section 9 – (1), that unvaccinated people cannot leave the country. Those are not the words. It says you have to produce a vaccination card to leave the country whether by land, sea, or air. Now I find that a violation of my constitutional right to freedom of movement. We are coming back to the old days of income tax release and you had to get an income tax release card to leave the country. That was removed because it was unconstitutional. Now you’re telling me, I can’t leave the country unless I have a vaccination card. So you’re holding hostage, you’re holding prisoner 50% of Belizeans who have decided, we don’t want that foreign injection, that jab in our bodies. No. This is not right and I’m calling on this administration to rethink and reconsider this situation and to take away that 9 – (1). That doesn’t make any sense but most of all, it’s our tax dollars that pay the Government Departments and I am bringing revenue and you are telling me you can’t take my money because I don’t have a vaccination card. Now I am not. I cannot take this lying down and I’m standing up for all the other 50% of Belizeans who are going to find themselves in this situation. Can’t leave the country, can’t renew your licence and probably other situations. You can’t go into a government department because you’re unvaccinated. Then offer an alternative that we can do these things online.”
Also speaking on section nine-dash-one of S.I sixty-one, was attorney Arthur Saldivar who says that the section is a direct violation of a person’s constitutional right to free movement. Saldivar says that requiring Belizeans to provide proof of vaccination to leave the country is unlawful.Arthur Saldivar, Attorney: “Section 10 reads that a person shall not be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say the right to move freely throughout Belize, the right to reside in any part of Belize, the right to enter Belize, the right to leave Belize and immunity from expulsion from Belize. Any restriction on the person’s freedom of movement that is involved in his lawful detention shall not be held to be inconsistent with or in confirmation with this section. Now at this particular point in time, we are not in the throes of a pandemic, which was not the case when these series of S.I.s started. The reasons for the S.I.s to have been introduced was to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have now taken the position of seeking now to live with the disease. That said, there is no justification at this time for the Government of Belize to be putting in place a restriction of the nature of Section 61, that Statutory Instrument in Section 61 in section 9, sub-section 1 of that S.I. seeks to impose. It would certainly be, in my estimation, a contravention of the constitutional right of freedom of movement. Now, suffice it to say that if it were that the requirement of the country that the person is seeking to go to was such that a vaccination card was necessary but that would be for the Immigration of that country to either deny or allow that person to enter once they’re there without the card. But it shouldn’t be for us to constrain their own citizens. If there are, for all intents and purposes, healthy and not exhibiting symptoms at the time they are seeking to leave.”

Saldivar, who is a member of the Belizean Rights and Justice Movement, added that allowing un-vaccinated foreigners to enter and exit the country is a disrespect to Belizeans who are not given the same liberty.