A group of community-based activists has formed a group called the Belizean Eleventh Amendment Working Group, which will be meeting virtually for the remainder of this month to discuss the proposed 11th Amendment Bill that seeks to bar anyone who has served a prison sentence for more than a year from running for Parliament.
The group, which is being led by “Sista” YaYa Marin Coleman of the UBAD Education Foundation (UEF), is scheduled to meet every Saturday in July in an attempt to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed bill and chart the way forward.
This week, we spoke to Marin Coleman who said, “We saw that there was a need for the community to be more knowledgeable, engaged and saw the willful negligence of the state in not communicating in a meaningful way with the community. We saw the need for there to be an awareness for Belizeans to understand and know what the 11th Amendment Bill is and if it is passed how it may impact Belizeans as well as unborn children for generations to come.”
Marin-Coleman said that she felt it unfair that the state would just impose an amendment without first consulting with the local populace on something that is of national importance and so she reached out to several Belizeans at home and abroad who agreed to do the required reading and research for the webinars.
One of those individuals who participated in the webinar was policy analysis Aria Lightfoot who cited the need for clarity on the amendment as well as the need for it to be more specific instead of broad-based. “Constitutional laws should not be a playground for political games and that is why I have an issue with the 11th Amendment,” Lightfoot explained.
In closing, Marin-Coleman indicated that it will be up to Belizeans to decide how they will choose to engage their respective area representatives on the issue. She pointed out that there is a 90-day waiting period between the first and second reading of the bill and she is encouraging Belizeans to either engage with their area representative or email a letter to the Clerk of Court at ClerkNA@bna.gov.bz and address it to Hon. Julius Espat, who is the Chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the thirteen standing committees of the House of Representatives.
“We need to get used to having these conversations about policies especially when those who are elected make these decisions without meaningful conversations with people and without giving them the chance to voice their concerns and represent them in the House of Representatives,” ended Marin Coleman.
The next webinar will be hosted on July 17, 24, and 31st from 10:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m. interested persons can also log on to the discussion via zoom on Krem Sunday Review’s Facebook page.