UNCAC Representatives in Belize

Personnel representing the United Nations Convention against Corruption arrived in Belize over the past two days. The representatives from regional group Haiti and international group Tuvula are in Belize to conduct a gap analysis in order to initiate the implementation of UNCAC in Belize. The analysis will seek to review the Laws of Belize in order to ascertain its strengths and weaknesses in fighting corruption. Consultations officially began this morning between the Representatives, the DPP, the Judiciary and the Police Department. Our Media Colleagues in Belize City Spoke to Solicitor General Nigel Hawk after the consultations. Hawke says that Belize is on its way to filling those legislative gaps, but there is still more work to be done.

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: Well, it’s almost like what I would refer to very cautiously as a gap analysis. From what we’ve looked at, we think we are substantially there. We have a number of pieces of legislation to support our fight against corruption. There is still more to be done, because some legislations that we have need to be updated and probably further amendments. And then, there are some that we don’t have. For example whistle blower legislation, legislation in relation to civil asset recovery which should apply in instances where you found that persons have probably stolen assets of the states. Also, we need to overhaul our extradition legislation, as we still have aspects of the old 1870 UK Act. And we don’t have any comprehensive legislation dealing with international prison transfer. So those are some of the areas that we think we really need to look at to improve upon. But the ones that we have, they are there and are workable, and we think that we have some that we could use but we need to improve on them. We also highlighted the fact that we also took to the CCJ in 2011 I believe, the Attorney General V Florencio Marin and Joe Coye, which established the fact that a sitting attorney general can now sue in misfeasance in public office. And that is a judicial precedence being followed throughout the Commonwealth now. So we say in common law we have that case that will support bringing actions against public officials who run a fowl of the law. And that court highlighted several steps that we can also take in terms of tracing or if ministers or public officials act in breach of their office. So, we think we have that and then we spoke lastly of the issue of common law offence of criminal misconduct.

Last week, Attorney General Micheal Pereffyte told the media the representatives will be holding consultations with several entities. Pereffyte indicated that social groups desiring to meet with the representatives can file an application requesting such meeting. This morning Hawke gave us a list of groups that the UNCAC representative plans to meet with during their visit.

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: Today, it’s the Director of Public Prosecutions, the judiciary and the police. It continues till tomorrow and in the afternoon tomorrow, they will also start with our chambers, but mainly the unit that deal with international legal affairs on basically international co-operation. So that will take us into Thursday and then I think that is the full extent they’ll go through all of that with us, the police, the judiciary and the DPP. Baring in mind that we are only dealing with criminalization and law enforcement here in this cycle. They may meet with the unions and any other interested party, but like I said we don’t control process. They’ll control the process and if they feel they need to meet with them for any reason, they’ll indicate. But we as a focal point have written to all the parties indicating that they’ll be here. If those parties wish to speak with them, they are free to come to see whether they could have audience with them. But, I think the team will control who they’ll meet with. 

The People’s United Party has indicated that they want a meeting with UNCAC representatives. The Governmental experts are expected to be in the country for approximately 2 weeks.

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