The Government’s proposed Eleventh Amendment has received much criticism. The amendment seeks to expand the disqualifications for running in the National Assembly. Persons who have served a sentence of imprisonment for more than twelve months, imposed by a court in or outside of Belize, under the amendment, will be automatically disqualified. The bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives and will be brought back in ninety days. The PUP government has received heavy criticism on this amendment so we asked the Minister of Constitutional Reform Henry Charles Usher about it.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional Reform and Political Reform: “We’re not rushing. There’s a mechanism when you amend the constitution you introduce the bill then you wait ninety days were public consultation can happen and then we bring it back for second reading so there’s no rush it’s not like we tried to read the bill in three readings one time in the House. So it’s not a rush. We believe after consultations with Belizeans, with the unions, with different organizations that it’s important that this government signals its efforts at good governance, anti corruption. We need to look at all our laws and put in place anti corruption measures and that is what this 11th amendment is doing. It is expanding the disqualification for running in the National Assembly. It talks about election offences, it talks about corruption offences; if you are guilty of any of those offences you can’t run. Yes there is a section dealing with if you had served more than twelve months but that comes again out of consultation and there’s no rush. If persons have views on it they can submit it to the House committee when they meet I believe they’re meeting next week. They can certainly come in, write the Chair of the House Committee Honorable Julius Espat to give the views on the 11th amendment.”
Reporter: Persons have said there hasn’t been much consultation with the public and we know that you guys were running somewhat on a campaign of transparency and good governance.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional Reform and Political Reform: “That is why you have the opportunity now. The consultation period has started since the 11th amendment was read for the first time in the House two weeks ago. Consultations are ongoing. Like I said we have to wait those ninety days before we even think about bringing it back and that’s what we’re going to do so that is when the consultation period happens.”