Julius Espat believes suspension ended with 2016; awaits response

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vlcsnap-2017-01-12-16h42m29s355Cayo South Area Representative, Julius Espat, believes that his suspension from the National Assembly legally came to an end on December 31, 2016. Attorney for Espat has written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives in a letter dated January 3, 2017.  Espat was unceremoniously dragged out  of the National Assembly on 26th August, 2016. Espat has challenged the validity of the suspension in court but late last year, that claim was struck out by Chief Justice Hon. Kenneth Benjamin. The decision was made on the basis that the Court has no jurisdiction in the suspension of Espat because of the separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature. The court, he ruled, would have had jurisdiction only if there had been a clear cut constitutional violation of the Honorable Espat’s rights. According to the January 3rd letter fromvlcsnap-2017-01-12-16h43m08s476 Espat’s attorney , notwithstanding the foregoing legal position,  and we quote,   “Given that the session of the National Assembly in which our client was suspended ended with the calendar year on 31st December, 2016, and no resolution terminating the suspension was put or passed before then, we are firmly of the view that our client’s suspension, even assuming it was lawfully effected, terminated in accordance with the provisions of Standing 0rder 44(7) on December 31st,2016, on the expiration of the Session.” According to Espat’s attorney, standing order 44(7) says that if a Member is suspended under any provisions of standing order 44, his suspension is to continue until it is terminated by a resolution of the House, or, if no such resolution is come to, until the end of the Session. It further states that the provisions of section 83 of the Belize Constitution are that there shall be a session of the National Assembly at least one in every year beginning on a date appointed by the Governor General on proclamation. The letter asks for confirmation that Espat’s suspension stands terminated and that he is now entitled to participate in all proceedings of the House in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Standing Orders. Espat’s attorney is yet awaiting a response .

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