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Law Forum: “Sound Policy for Better Law”

The Attorney General’s Ministry is tasked to draft the laws of Belize; however, other ministries may soon be involved in the process. In this regard, a two-day forum began today geared towards this objective. The Belize Law-Making Forum is being held under the theme “Sound Policy for Better Law” which brought together several stakeholders from different ministries.  Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte shared how this initiative will make the work of his ministry easier.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General of Belize: “At the AG’s Ministry a big part of what we do is to draft legislation and to get the ideas and suggestions from the public and from the departments to the policy makers so that we can decide on what laws to pass or what las to pass, rules and regulations. What we’re trying to do at the AG’s Ministry is to equip as much public servants as we can to help us with that process. We want to train them and to standardize how we do Cabinet papers, how we propose legislation, how we write legislation and what we are trying to do is the first step in many steps to try and assist them so they can assist us in making our job easier. Think of any law that may exist the idea is the important thing and getting on paper what you want to accomplish is the important thing. So what we want people to now is to say ‘we have a process that we see is not working.’ or ‘there is good need for a law here.’ you don’t have to contact the Attorney General’s Ministry for that right away, you can start taking steps to draft it within your own Ministry to develop the policies that you need to develop within your own ministry so that by the time you contact us you’ve already taken it to a level that we just need to put the finishing touches on. It saves time, it’s more efficient and your individual ministry has more input on it from a layman’s perspective. Sometimes the best people, no not sometimes all the time, the best people to explain to you what they want to accomplish by a piece of a legislation is a non lawyer.”

The forum is being funded by Improve Access to Justice, Impact Justice which is established to advance access to justice within the Caribbean.  Love News also spoke with Albert Edwards, Deputy Solicitor General with Responsibility for Legislative drafting. Edwards shared how this will benefit the ministries.

Albert Edwards – Deputy Solicitor General:What we’re seeking to do is to yield capacity of our public officers in the area of policy development for legislation. Why is this important? Because the more thoroughly developed policy is the more effective and efficient a legislative process you have. One of the challenges we have is that if policy isn’t fully thought out there’s a lot of back and forth between the persons proposing a change and the persons who have to draft the legislation within my ministry. So we are hoping that by this activity that we will build capacity among our public officers in relation to the development of policy, in relation to an understanding of the legislative process because there are several steps that are involved from having an idea that we need to change a law to having that law assented to by the Government and we want to ensure that all the persons who are involved in the process of law making have a full understanding of all the steps and the process and that we also have realistic expectations.”

The law forum is the first of its kind for the Caribbean.