Constitution of Belize – During Emergencies 1


Provisions for periods of public emergency.

18.-(1) In this Part, “period of public emergency” means any period during which -(a) Belize is engaged in any war; or

(b) there is in force a proclamation by the Governor-General declaring that a state of public emergency exists; or

(c) there is in force a resolution of the National Assembly declaring that democratic institutions in Belize are threatened by subversion.

(2) The Governor-General may, by proclamation which shall be published in the Gazette, declare that a state of public emergency exists for the purposes of this Part.

(3) A proclamation made by the Governor-General under subsection (2) of this section shall not be effective unless it contains a declaration that the Governor-General is satisfied -

(a) that a state of war between Belize and another State is imminent or that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease, or other similar calamity; or

(b) that action has been taken or is immediately threatened by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as to be likely to endanger the public safety or to deprive the community, or any substantial portion of the community, of supplies or services essential to life.

(4) A proclamation made under subsection (2) of this section may be made so as to apply only to such part of Belize as may be specified in the proclamation (in this subsection called “the emergency area”), in which case regulations made under subsection (9) of this section shall except as otherwise expressly provided in such regulations have effect only in the emergency area.

(5) A proclamation made by the Governor-General for the purposes of and in accordance with this section -

(a) shall, unless previously revoked, remain in force for a period not exceeding one month;

(b) may be extended from time to time by a resolution passed by the National Assembly for further periods, not exceeding in respect of each such extension a period of twelve months; and

(c) may be revoked at any time by a resolution of the National Assembly.

(6) A resolution of the National Assembly passed for the purposes of subsection (1)(c) of this section shall remain in force for two months or such shorter period as may be specified therein:
Provided that any such resolution may be extended from time to time by a further such resolution, each extension not exceeding two months from the date of the resolution effecting the extension; and any such resolution may be revoked at any time by a further resolution.

(7) A resolution of the National Assembly for the purposes of subsection (1)(c) of this section, and a resolution of the National Assembly extending or revoking any such resolution, shall not be passed unless it is supported by the votes of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives present and voting.

(8) Any provision of this section that a proclamation or resolution shall lapse or cease to be in force at any particular time is without prejudice to the making of a further such proclamation or resolution whether before or after that time.

(9) During any period of public emergency, the following provisions shall have effect -

(a) the Governor-General may make such regulations as are necessary or expedient for securing public safety, the defence of Belize, the maintenance of public order and the suppression of mutiny, rebellion and riot, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community;
any such regulations may empower such authorities or persons as may be specified in the regulations to make orders and rules for any of the purposes for which such regulations are authorised by this subsection to be made and may contain such incidental and supplementary provisions as are necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations; any such regulations or any order or rule made in pursuance of such regulations may amend or suspend the operation of any law and shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any law; in this subsection, “law” does not include this Constitution or any provision thereof or any law that alters this Constitution or any provision thereof.

(10) (including any regulations made under subsection (9) of this section) shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of section 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 of this Constitution to the extent that the law in question makes in relation to any period of public emergency provision, or authorises the doing during any such period of anything, that is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of any situation arising or existing during the period for the purpose of dealing with that situation.

Protection of persons detained under emergency laws.

19.-(1) When a person is detained by virtue of a law that authorises the taking during a period of public emergency of measures that are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists in Belize during that period, the following provisions shall apply, that is to say -

(a) he shall, with reasonable promptitude and in any case not more than seven days after the commencement of his detention, be informed in a language that he understands of the grounds upon which he is detained and furnished with a written statement in English specifying the particulars of those grounds;

(b) not more than fourteen days after the commencement of his detention, a notification shall be published in the Gazette stating that he has been detained and giving particulars of the provision of law under which his detention is authorised;

(c) not more than one month after the commencement of his detention and thereafter during his detention at intervals of not more than three months, his case shall be reviewed by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and presided over by a person appointed by the Chief Justice from among persons who are legal practitioners;

(d) he shall be afforded reasonable facilities for private communication and consultation with a legal practitioner of his own choice who shall be permitted to make representations to the tribunal appointed for the review of the case of the detained person; and(e) at the hearing of his case by the tribunal appointed for the review of his case he shall be permitted to appear in person or to be represented by a legal practitioner of his own choice.

(2) On any review by a tribunal in pursuance of this section of the case of a detained person, the tribunal may make recommendations concerning the necessity or expediency of continuing his detention to the authority by which it was ordered but, unless it is otherwise provided by law, that authority shall not be obliged to act in accordance with any such recommendations.

(3) Nothing contained in subsection (1)(d) or subsection (1)(e) of this section shall be construed as entitling a person to legal representation at public expense.

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