According to the law, persons who desire to participate in the National re-registration exercise are required to live at an address in Belize for a minimum of two months. Belizeans abroad are not able to meet this requirement whichhas caused the Belizeans United for Equal Rights at Home and Abroad, to say that it is being disenfranchised from re-registering. On Monday, July 2nd, during the official launching of the no to the ICJ campaign, President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman said that they will petition the government on the matter and if the government does not respond favorably, they are prepared to seek legal recourse. Today, Arthur Saldivar confirmed that he was sought by the Organization to find someone who can put together a legal case on their behalf.
Arthur Saldivar, Attorney and Aggrieved PUP Member: I was approached about this issue of looking closely at the discrimination that was being suffered by members of the diaspora. It was something that I believe really and truly have to be addressed. So since the initial interaction about the issue, the committee, I believe went and met with the Prime Minister and were told certain things. And after they were told this, then I was asked to find someone who could put together a legal case on their behalf. Certainly, I am a part of the process. We’ve been seeking to get specialized counsel, counsel specializing in constitutional matters. As you know, I am a criminal defense attorney primarily. I do understand and appreciate what the constitution portends and what it upholds, but that’s not the jurisdiction of my practice. But, I will do what I can to assist in every way I can because I do believe that it’s a breach of the fundamental rights and freedoms in relation to maintaining this artificial barriers of section 5 of representation of the People’s Act.
Saldivar went on to say that according to the Constitution a person born in Belize and living abroad has the same fundamental rights as a person born in Belize and living in Belize. According to Saldivar, the matter must be looked at from a position of fairness and what justice requires.
Arthur Saldivar, Attorney and Aggrieved PUP Member: The legislation does not trump or supersede the constitution. And where you have your fundamental rights and freedom, there is an expectation that you are to exercise the most fundamental right of a Belizean once you reach the age of majority, the age of 18, you are to be able to vote. Now, there is nowhere in the constitution where it is qualified that a person born in Belize and living in Belize is to be treated any differently than a person born in Belize and living abroad. If there was such a qualification to the constitution then it would be understood that Section 5, the whole ordinarily resident clause, that it would apply. But there is no such thing, what make matters worse is that every election we know that persons from Guatemala who carry Belizean Passport and Voters ID come to vote on Election Day. They would not be fulfilling the criteria of the Section 5 as well since they would not have been ordinarily resident in Belize, because if you are ordinarily resident in Belize, Why are you coming across the border to vote? So you cannot have it, for one group they are barred and prohibited from the electoral process and for another group it’s not even a concern. We have to look at this thing from a position of fairness and what justice requires. Discrimination is something that the constitution prohibits, there is a protection against discrimination. I believe its Section 17 of our constitution that lays that out and this is a highly discriminating practice.