Earlier this week Attorney General Wilfred Elrington admitted that the Government deliberately ignored a consent order obtained by the United Cane Farmers Association a few years ago detailing amendments to the Sugar Act to de-regulate the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) as sole representative of sugar cane growers. The Government is now belatedly going to the House of Representatives to pass the amendments on Monday but according to president of the Bar Association of Belize, Eamon Courtenay, the law has been violated and it will be difficult to undo the damage.
Eamon Courtenay – President of the Bar Association of Belize
“Every order of the court takes effect immediately upon its being pronounced, unless the order itself suspends its effect or appoints a later date for its coming into force. So, to the extent that there was an undertaking given to the Court, as to the basis on which that case was settled, there was a duty from that date on the Government to do what it promised the Court.
It is inconceivable to me for someone just four and a half years later to say that they were not acting unlawfully in failing to discharge the undertaking which they had given to a Judge of the Supreme Court. It is as simple as that. You cannot, as a litigant, give an undertaking to the Court and four or five years later simply say to the Court, ‘Well, I am just getting around to do it, because it serves my purpose.’ That is not the way the law operates in a country that is governed by the rule of law.”
The Government has said that it was trying to protect the position of the BSCFA but the Association has already lost branch and several hundred farmers dissatisfied with its handling of the Commercial Sugar Agreement negotiations with BSI/ASR.