Political Reform in Belize
2. Fact: The PUP reduced the period of detention of holding a person on reasonable suspicion without charge from 72 hours to 48 hours and further reduced the time during which a person must be informed of the reason for detention from 48 hours to 24 hours. 3. Fact: The PUP abolished economic citizenship which was enacted by the previous UDP government.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Political Reform in Belize
Eleven FACTS on Political Reform in Belize "The truth shall make you free"In January 1999 a few months after the PUP returned to office, Prime Minister Said Musalaunched a broad-based Political Reform Commission to review Belizes system of governanceand make proposals for reform. Members of the Commission included representatives from thetwo major political parties, the business sector, the church, the labour movement, womenorganisations, the public service and civil society. Mr. Dylan Vernon was the executivechairman. After receiving submissions from various organisations and holding extensiveconsultations and meetings, the Commission issued its Report in January 2000.Over 70 of the recommendations of the Commission were adopted, including the following listedas Facts:1. Fact: The PUP expanded the Preamble of the Constitution to eliminate disparity on grounds of "ethnicity", "disability", "gender inequality", and recognized the right of every individual to "basic education" and "basic health".2. Fact: The PUP reduced the period of detention of holding a person on reasonable suspicion without charge from 72 hours to 48 hours and further reduced the time during which a person must be informed of the reason for detention from 48 hours to 24 hours.3. Fact: The PUP abolished economic citizenship which was enacted by the previous UDP government.4. Fact: The abolished the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) which was used by the previous government to harass and spy on their political opponents.5. Fact: The PUP limited the number of members of the House of Representatives that can be appointed to the Cabinet to no more than 2/3 of the elected members of the majority party in the House in order to limit the domination of the Legislature by the Executive.6. Fact: The PUP expanded the composition of the Senate to include representatives from the Churches, the business sector and the Trade Union movement. (The Commission had recommended an elected Senate. The PUP held a referendum coinciding with the last general election for the people to decide if they wanted an elected senate and although a majority of those who voted said yes, the incoming UDP government promised instead to add another senator from the NGO community. The Prime Minister has still not fulfilled this commitment).7. Fact: The PUP expanded the powers of the Senate to carry out investigations into alleged abuse or mismanagement (such as the Social Security investigation) and also to approve appointments of ambassadors and judges.
8. Fact: The Commission recommended the strengthening of the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act and the PUP implemented a comprehensive anti-Corruption Act.9. Fact: The Commission recommended a more transparent and accountable system for government contracts and procurement of goods and services and the PUP enacted the Finance and Audit Reform Act.10. Fact: When the PUP came into office in 1998 there was widespread concern about political interference with the Judiciary. Our government carried out a major reform in this area; judges of high repute and integrity (such as Chief Justice Conteh) were recruited and appointed with security of tenure and the independence of the Judges was fully respected. The Magistracy was also upgraded with security of tenure. The Public Service Commission was reformed into three separate commissions. Heads of departments were made subject to the Public Service Commission and not to ministerial control. Permanent Secretaries were styled CEOs whose future was tied to that of the party in government they choose to serve.11. Fact: Priority calls on the budget were constitutionally required for certain offices such as the Auditor General, the Ombudsman, the Contractor General, the DPP, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal so as to safeguard their security and independence.