The debate on whether or not to take Guatemala’s unfounded claim to Belize to the International Court of Justice, ICJ, has the country divided. Last month, Cabinet officially announced that it is supporting a yes vote to the upcoming ICJ referendum, since it believes that the ICJ is the only solution. Meanwhile, there are others who are just as eager to find a solution, but are opposed to going to the ICJ under the Special Agreement. One such organization is the Belize Peace Movement which has frequently spoken out against the Special Agreement and has intentions to challenge the legality of the agreement. Attorneys Kareem Musa, Anthony Sylvestre, and Richard “Dickie” Bradley are also opposed to taking the matter to the ICJ under the Special Agreement, unless certain measures are taken. They issued a joint opinion which Kareem Musa reviewed for the media today.
Kareem Musa – Area Representative for Caribbean Shores: “Something as important as this Compromis, this special agreement that was signed into by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2008 ought to be something that should come to the National Assembly and by National Assembly I mean the House of Representatives as well as the Senate for ratification. It cannot be that the Minister and the Government and a few other individuals can look at a document, review it and say that we speak on behalf of an entire country and we are going to take an entire country to the International Court of Justice without first putting it to the people and by putting it to the people I mean taking it to the National Assembly for ratification. As you know the section of the constitution, section 1 and schedule one of the constitution sets out the borders of our country Belize. Section 68 of that very same constitution says that only the National Assembly has the power to alter the constitution and make laws and so what the current Government was doing in 2008 up to present is actually assigning the power of the legislator onto the ICJ when in fact it should first come to the House for us to be able to vote on that to review that to ventilate it properly and ensure that the Compromis has all of the terms that we can agree on as a country before we take it to the ICJ.”
Sylvestre reiterated Musa’s sentiments and added that the April 10 referendum cannot legally be held until the Special Agreement is ratified by the National Assembly. Sylvestre further stated that it needs bipartisan support and a two-thirds majority since it involves a constitutional change.