REFERENDUM CASE DELAYED YET AGAIN
Press Release Date: April 9, 2013
Location: Belize City, Belize
Arguments to strike out Claim No 225 of 2012 were not heard at 9:00 this morning in the courtroom of Justice Michelle Arana as scheduled. In fact, the case has been adjourned until next week Thursday, December 20th, 2012. This most recent delay in hearing this matter was unavoidable because the Government of Belize’s legal team, led by Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, only just today presented witness submissions. The court therefore needed time to review these along with supporting case law.
Claim No 225 of 2012 was brought earlier this year by Audrey Marie Bradley, Thomas Greenwood and Oceana in Belize. Bradley, Greenwood and Oceana are seeking judicial review of the decision of the Chief Elections Officer, Election and Boundaries Department and the Governor General of Belize to reject 8,047 petition signatures that would have triggered a national referendum on whether or not to proceed with offshore oil exploration and drilling.
Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith leads the legal team arguing for judicial review of the signature rejection and against strike-out of the court action challenging the Government’s refusal to allow Belizean registered voters to be consulted by way of a referendum on the critical national matter of offshore oil exploration and drilling.
In commenting on today’s developments, Oceana in Belize Vice President Mrs. Audrey Matura-Shepherd stated, “This case is historic and important because it is the first time Belizeans would have used the amended Referendum Act, which according to the Prime Minister allows them to have a voice on issues of national importance. The disqualification of these signatures denies Belizeans a voice and a vote on whether or not they support the Government’s plans to drill offshore.”