Espat vs. Peyrefitte

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Many of us will remember the raucous that occurred at the House of Representatives on August 26, 2016 as Hon. Julius Espat was thrown out of the chambers. At that time, he and some journalists were stripped of their dignity and carried out by the security forces. The Speaker of the House had asked that a Representative of the ruling party to ‘name’ Hon Julius Espat in a procedural statement which would then allow the duly elected Representative for Cayo South to be thrown out of the House. As History will have it Hon. Julius was forcibly removed in a scene that is definitely in the House of UDP infamy.

But, if this were a video you would place your finger on the slider and pull it to the right. The matter now was just been ruled upon by the Court of Appeal. The following is a summary and actual words in the ruling.

The Plaintiff is Hon. Julius Espat.(Appellant)

The Defendants are the Speaker at the time Hon. Michael Peyrefitte(1st Respondent), Eddie Webster, Clerk and the Attorney General of Belize.

The matter that was being appealed was that the Supreme Court had thrown out the case of the Hon. Espat being thrown out of the House and suspended. Hon. Espat was putting forth that the process used to have him removed and suspended was generally flawed.

“The learned trial judge erred when he struck out the claim of the appellant on the general principles of the separation of powers. He correctly accepted that parliamentary privileges are granted the National Assembly and the Speaker. However, the trial judge erred when he stopped short of considering where there would be a need for trial in construing Order 44 of the Standing Order and Section 73 of the Constitution, whether a vote was required for the proposed suspension. Further, if that issue was determined in favour of the appellant, whether the Speaker breached the provisions of the Constitution and contravened the constitutional rights of the Appellant. This is permissible under the exception of the general rule of the doctrine of separation of powers.”

The matter was sent back to the Supreme Court for hearing of the strike out application before a different trial judge. This is giving the Rule of Law its due course.

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