We have been following the land quarrel on Cemetery Road in Belize City. For context, in 1933, two families lived on the same plot of land – one was the family of prominent attorney Rodwell Williams; the other, the Yearwood family. The Williams’ family were allowed to live in a small corner of the property, but eventually moved. However, the attorney says he still has enough claim there that he told a fast food shop owner on Albert Street West, located behind the old premises of his firm Barrow and Williams, that she could move her shop to the Cemetery Lane property as compensation for losing her property to an expanded parking lot. He also has a document purporting to subdivide the property. However, The Yearwood family says she gave no such permission to subdivide. On Saturday, Police and BDF were commandeered to the property in an effort to place the shop in the yard, but they were halted by the family’s attorney Audrey Matura Sheppard. Speaking with Ms Sheppard, she says that law enforcement’s actions were unconstitutional. Here’s why.
“What the Police is being asked then to do is to determine property rein which they have no authority under the Act to do; only a court could do that; not even a magistrate’s court can determine property rights , and I hear magistrates are doing that, and people are being the victims. That is illegal. So, they cannot do that. At that point, the only thing they could have done is to maintain a legislation and law and say:”Mom/sir, you know what? This is a previous dispute and we are going to curvier the status quo until you go to a court and the court there determines whose title or claim is valid. The police mandates these people to move the vehicle off their land, brought a tow truck; police and BDF brought a tow truck and this board little shop reached, then they escorted this little shop and allowed the workers to place it on these people’s property. That is an infringement of a massive proportion! When you go to court and they are daggering it into to court with an award on an individual when he stays using that kind of power, because it’s not being Mr. Rodwell Williams in Court in it. I don’t know how he managed to convince them, but it is now distinct imposing on a citizen! That is unconstitutional because everybody has the protection to the right of property under the constitution and the state did not have a court order to enforce”.
On Wednesday we received an update from a relative of the Yearwood clan, Sean Martinez.
“The police were very calm…very professional and they were requesting that we take our papers to the station and Mr. Williams would do the same…and we’ll sit down and negotiate with Mr. Cyril”.
Reporter: Are you going to go there alone or is it a family decision that you will go there only with your attorney?”
Sean Martinez: “No, no. Only with the attorney we will do that; not without the attorney under no circumstances”.
Reporter: “Is it if the family opinion that if you are to go, then Mr. Williams as well should go”.
Sean Martinez: “Well, the officer said that even if Mr. William does not show up, then we will go and present our case and they will act based on what we present to them”.
Reporter: “If that is the position then and the police says, well, we can’t enforce nothing, then how long before you remove this structure off your property?
Sean Martinez: “Well, we will have to see what the attorney says”.