The last Sitting of the Senate took place yesterday in Belmopan. There were several Bills debated including the Cybercrime Bill and the Defence Bill. Rising on the Cybercrime Bill was Senator Mark Lizarraga who gave his assessment as a representative of the private sector.
Senator Mark Lizarraga: “We certainly agree that if you intentionally access someone else’s computer or a part of that computer without permission it’s an offence. You don’t have no business in my computer without my permission trying to hack in there or trying to crack it or whatever so that is a good one. You don’t have any right to damage my computer, you don’t have any right to deny me or obstruct me from accessing my computer or my data, there should be a fine for that. You shouldn’t interfere with the performance of my computer system and including intentionally disconnecting the electricity supply all of these things I’m talking about now you could go to jail, you could get a fine and go to jail and I think people need to know these things. I think if you use a computer to forge documents it’s a crime. I think if you certainly try to use a computer to defraud other persons that is a crime and a serious crime. If you use it to assume the identity of somebody else, you can’t be trying to set up a fake page saying you’re me and that kind of thing, that is now an offence and you can go to jail and be charged $5,000 or $8,000. Child luring. In the matter of child luring we thought that maybe, I think I heard Senator Smith refer to it that there should be a scaling of the offences for the different levels of the offences. So one level should be when you’re attempting to and then the other should if you actually are doing it those are the examples that come to mind but certainly thought that area could have been strengthened some more.”
Senator Ashley Rocke representing the Council of Churches rose to speak on the Defence Bill. Rocke’s focused primarily on the sexual allegations that surfaced in recent months. PUP’s Senator Isabel Bennett also spoke on the Bill and its amendments.
Senator Ashley Rocke: “We all had suspicion of what goes on in these institutions where there is a rule to yourself type of regulation that takes place among them. When we read it we thought that the present administration had done well in making sure that what apparently were old behaviors and old traditions because of the way the BDF was established initially that those traditions are obviously coming to the place where we’re now looking at how to best regulate systems like the BDF where a man who has a whole amount of power can use that power at his own discretion. It is good to know that our BDF women can now have the liberty of calling the police if necessary if they feel that their rights have been violated.”
Senator Isabel Bennett: “As I go through the bill that is being presented it’s sixty one amendments and like they say nobody knows nursing like a nurse so no soldier would know soldiering like a soldier so I’m sure that what is in here was properly discussed with all levels of the Belize Defence Force so we have some amendments that should be able to uplift the morale of the Belize Defence Force. Very important in terms of the amendments which I’m sure they appreciate is the fact that the public service in terms of the word and the Governor General is actually being replaced by the Security Services Commission and so I’m sure that they are happy about that particular amendment.”
As we noted yesterday was the last meeting of the Senate under the current administration. Each Senator during the session had their chance to give closing remarks. Here is a highlight of that portion of the meeting.
Senator Dr.Carla Barnett: “In all likelihood it’s the last meeting of the Senate in which I have had the privilege of serving for the last five years and so I want to express appreciation to all my colleagues on – I can’t say both sides because I have three sides right – because it’s been sometimes tough but for the most part quite positive. There have been times when we have differences. Sometimes the differences are not expressed in the way we’d really like but that’s in many ways the nature of the Legislative and the process in the Senate. I would want to encourage as we come to the close of this Senate period and as we cross the election and move into the next phase that the new Senate when it is formed that it spends some time dealing with the issues of how we process, how we proceed, there’s a need to update standing orders those kinds of things and so cross the next side whoever forms the new administration, whoever forms the new Senate please spend some time looking at that so that it makes our operations a little bit I don’t want to say modern because this is a very old fashioned kind of situation that we’re in but to update where we need to update. And so thanks to everybody for all of the positive exchanges that we’ve had and it’s been a pleasure to sit in this chamber with my colleagues.”
Senator Osmani Salas: “I also want to say thank you very much to all my colleagues. This has been an interesting three and a half years for me, an eye opener indeed. I really appreciated the level of discussion that we’ve had here especially if we compare it to that in the lower chamber. I really appreciate the maturity that we have displayed in the upper chamber. I think we have really set an example for what should occur after this session of the senate. I want to thank you Mr.President you have been a huge breath of fresh air, you have displayed fairness, you have been firm and fair as one of the my favorite boxing referees I forget his name because it’s been many years but fair and firm and I appreciate that as well so thank you to all and I also look forward to an uneventful elections meaning that it’s safe as we have displayed over and over again peaceful transition of power whichever party wins. We have been a model in the region, in the world and I look forward to that continuing.”
Senator Aldo Salazar: It may seem at times that we really don’t like each other very much at time, certainly we don’t see eye to eye government and opposition on many things especially on the policies of government but I believe that I can safely say that each of us I mean we really do get along and I think that is key at the end of the day we show each other our humanity. We may disagree and we disagree fervently here in these chambers because we have a job to do but we don’t let that affect our humanity. And I think that the wider public should learn a little bit from that I think because all of this rancor and vitriol which accompanies party politics sometimes there really is not place for that. I mean why should you hate a man because he’s PUP or why should we hate somebody because he’s UDP. I’d like to thank my colleagues. This term has been especially eventful for those of us who were on the select committee I believe that a lot of work was put in and I certainly would like to thank everybody and I would like to thank you especially for what I’ve said which is that despite what happens in Chamber and despite how passionately we disagree on certain things when we get to the back we can sit down and have lunch and talk to each other in a civil way and that is what is most important.”