Minister Julius Espat says 11th Amendment is not an attack on the Opposition Leader
While the opposition insists that the motion was a direct attack on Barrow’s leadership, the Chair of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, Julius Espat, says it has nothing to do with the Barrow. He explained that the motion was in accordance with measures needed to enact the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). He further noted that the move to rid the parliament of persons with criminal pasts was based on feedback from the public.
Julius Espat, Area Representative, Cayo South: “I understand the impassioned performance that the Leader of the Opposition just gave. For a second or two, I was caught up listening myself. So kudos to the performance. But what are we trying to achieve? When a young person in Belize wants to be a police officer, the first thing that is requested is a police record. When somebody applies for employment of any substantial occupation, the first thing that is requested of them is a police record. This legislation, Madam Speaker, is not only to deal with frivolous crime, it is to deal with violent crime, it is to deal with corruption and it’s specific here it says corruption or abuse of public office or convicted of a crime. I would insert violent crime so that we get away from all the minor stuff that we have seen. I want the Belizean people to understand that this proposal is not an attack on anybody specifically. It is to – we have been receiving complaints, Madam Speaker. Everywhere we go in this country, people complain that the level that we are attracting into the House of Representatives is not the level that the House of Representatives deserves. Madam Speaker, if somebody is convicted of a violent crime and we allow that convicted criminal to lead a country in a parliamentary system raises concerns, Madam Speaker, about the individual’s ability to uphold the law. It is a basic concept. If somebody is convicted of corruption or misuse of public office, Madam Speaker, it is the same that applies. It raises concerns about the individual’s ability to uphold the law. We are here to manage the people’s resources. We are here to manage it in an ethical way, in a moral way, and in a legal way.”