Constitution of Belize

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The Constitution of Belize is the supreme law of the nation of Belize. It was signed on September 1981 with effect from that date.

Structure

The Constitution of Belize, Chapter 4 of the Laws of Belize, is divided into a preamble, 13 parts and four schedules.[1] They are set out as below.

Preamble

According to the Constitution, the people of Belize:

and say that the following shall have effect as the Constitution of Belize.

Part 1: The State and the Constitution

Comprises sections 1 and 2.

Part 2: Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

Comprises sections 3-22.

Part 3: Citizenship

Comprises sections 23-9

Part 4: The Governor-General

Sections 30-35.

Part 5: The Executive

Sections 36-54.

Part 6: The Legislature

Largest part, covering sections 55-93.

Part 7: The Judiciary

Sections 94-104.

Part 8: The Public Service

Sections 105-113.

Part 9: Finance

Sections 114-120.

Part 10: Miscellaneous

Part 11: Transitional Provisions

Sections 132-140.

Part 12: Repeals and Date of Commencement

Commencement. Revocations.

PART 13: Government Control Over Public Utilities

143. Interpretation. 144. Majority ownership and control of public utilities. 145. Validity of Acquisition Orders in respect of Belize Electricity Limited and Belize Telemedia Limited.

Schedules

Creative history

Belize in the late 1970s was engaged in a territorial dispute with Guatemala. It became increasingly clear that Belize had more international support and a stronger case, hence the talk of independence which had existed since self-government in 1963. Repeated demands by Guatemala and the United Kingdom that Belize cede territory were rejected by Premier George Cadle Price and the ruling People's United Party. By contrast, the newly formed Opposition United Democratic Party wanted the claim settled before proceeding to Independence. In the general elections of 1979, the PUP won and the seeds of the Constitution would begin to fall into place.

In 1980, the United Nations and Organization of American States both called for Belize's independence by the end of 1981.

January 31, 1981 saw a White Paper issued by the Government that began discussions on the proposed Independence Constitution. Despite March's hostile reception of the Heads of Agreement, a Constitutional Conference was held in April and by July the details were approved by the reigning monarch, paving the way for an Order of Independence to be issued by July 31 and debated in Parliament by August 10. Belize became independent on September 21, with the Constitution going into effect as of that date.

Amendments

The constitution of Belize has been amended several times since its ratification in 1981. It was first amended in 1985 to make changes to Belize's citizenship requirements. The most notable of these changes was the removal of a prohibition against multiple citizenship and the introduction of an "economic citizenship" provision granting citizenship to "any person who makes a substantial contribution to the economy and/or well being of Belize".[3] This later provision was criticized for allowing the sale of Belizean passports to foreigners who had never resided in Belize, and was repealed in 2001.[4]

In 2010, the Constitution was amended to make the Caribbean Court of Justice the highest court of appeals in Belize, replacing the Privy Council.[2]

References

  1. ^ "Belize 1981 (rev. 2001)". Constitute. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Good Bye: Belize abolishes all appeals to Privy Council". Dominica News Online. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  3. ^ Flanz, Gisbert H., ed. (June 1995). Constitutions of the Countries of the World. 1995 supplement. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana. pp. 1–4. ISBN 0379004674.
  4. ^ Sylvestre, Anthony (7 April 2011). "Dismantling Our Constitution". The Belize Times. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014.