Comparative Analysis

Comparative Analysis

The constitution and laws of Belize


Comparative Analysis

by Mark J. Stratton

The Constitution of the State of Belize is a well drafted document which follows the general pattern of other newly independent states od the West Indies. It appears that the drafters of the Constitution used the British Honduras Constitution Ordinance of 1963 as the basis for Chapters VI, VII, VIII and IX in the new Constitution. The new features of the 1981 Constitution can be found in Chapters I, II, III, IV and V.

Chapter I states that "Belize shall be a sovereign democratic State of Central America in the Caribbean region. "The frontiers of Belize shall be comprised of those land and sea areas which immediately previous to Belize's Independence constituted the colony of Belize.

Chapter I, Section 2 contains the supremacy clause of the new Constitution. "This Constitution is the supreme law of Belize and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void."

Chapter II deals with the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the peoples of Belize. As stated in Section 3 of Chapter II, every person in Belize is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms, regardless of "his race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely - a) life, liberty, security of the person, and the protection of the law; b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association ; c) protection for his family life, his personal privacy, the privacy of his home and other property and recognition of his human dignity ; and d) protection from arbitrary deprivation of property. "These provisions are only limited if said rights prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

Chapter III sets forth the citizenship requirements of Belize.

Chapter IV establishes the Governor-General's office, powers, and duties. In section 31 provision is made for Acting Governor-General; the power to appoint a Deputy to perform his or her functions during a period of absence of a short duration; is specified in Section 33.

As stated in Section 35, the Prime Minister shall keep the Governor General informed concerning the general conduct of the government of Belize.

Chapter V of the Constitution defines organization and the powers of the executive branch of the government. As stated in Section 36, the executive authority may be exercised on her behalf by the Governor-General or the Governor-General's subordinate officers.

Section 37 provides that there shall be a Prime Minister of Belize who shall be appointed by the Governor-General. Provision is also made for the appointment of a Deputy Prime Minister (Section 38). The following section concerns the performance of functions of the office of Prime Minister during his absence or illness. The appointment of Minister of Government by the Governor-General, with the advice of the Prime Minister, is regulated in Section 40. It is the function of the Governor-General to assign any Minister the responsibility for any business of the Government, including the administration of any department of government (Section 41).

The principal legal officer is to be the Attorney-General (Section 42). Provisions for the performance of functions of Ministers during absence or illness are made in Section 43.

The Governor-General may, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, "constitute offices for Belize, make and terminate appointments to any such office." (Sec. 51).

The Governor-General may pardon, grant a respite, or lessen punishment to any person convicted of any offence, with the advice of the Belize Advisory Council (Sec. 52).

Provision is made for the establishment of the Belize Advisory Council "which shall consist of not less than six members of which two shall be appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister. The others are to be appointed by the Governor -General after consulting the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (Sec. 54).

Chapter VI entitled "The Legislature" contains several new sections. According to Section 69, the National Assembly may alter any provisions of the Constitution. Section 88 provides for the establishment of an Elections and Boundaries Commission; Belize is to consist of eighteen electoral divisions (Art. 89), but the Election and Boundaries Commission may increase the number of electoral divisions (Sec. 90). The Election and Boundaries Commission may also redivide the electoral divisions (Sec. 91). The requirements for the right to vote (age, one vote, and secret ballot) are stated in Section 92. The conduct of elections is regulated in Section 93.

Chapter VII, entitled "The Judiciary," provides for the establishment of a Supreme Court and a Court of Appeals. Appeals to Her Majesty in Council are provided for in Section 104.

Chapter VIII which corresponds to Part IV of the 1963 Constitution, concerns the public service. Among the new features are the following: Appointment of a Director of Prosecutions by the Governor General (Sec. 108); and the appointment of the Auditor-General by the Governor-General (Sec.109).

Chapter X, entitled "Miscellaneous" refers to a variety of matters such as a Code of Conduct for persons to whom this section applies, which include the Governor-General, members of the National Assembly, the Belize Advisory Council and public officers (Sec.121); powers of appointment and acting appointments (Sec. 123); removal of public officers from office (Sec. 125); and resignations (Sec. 126). Section 131 gives interpretation and definition of certain terms in this document.


It should be noted that the printed text of the Belize Independence Order 1981 (1981 No. 1107), which was printed in London, contained only 10 Chapters and 131 sections. The Constitution which was subsequently published in Belize contains 12 Chapters and 142 sections. Chapter XI contains important transitional provisions. Unfortunately one page (74) was left blank and we were unable to obtain a corrected copy as this publication goes to press. We hope to obtain the missing page for insertion at a later time.

Chapter XII, consisting of two articles, concerns the date of commencement of this Constitution (September 21,1981).


Constitution of Belize


Chapter I - The State And The Constitution

1. The State

2. Constitution Is Supreme Law

Chapter II - Protection Of Fundamental Rights And Freedoms

3. Fundamental Rights And Freedoms

4. Protection Of Right To Life

5. Protection Of Right To Personal Liberty

6. Protection Of Law

7. Protection From Inhuman Treatment

8. Protection From Slavery And Forced Labor

9. Protection From Arbitrary Search Or Entry

10. Protection Of Freedom Of Movement

11. Protection Of Freedom Of Conscience

12. Protection Of Freedom Of Expression

13. Protection Of Freedom Of Assembly And Association

14. Protection Of Right Of Privacy

15. Protection Of Right To Work

16. Protection From Discrimination On The Grounds Or Race, Etc

17. Protection From Deprivation Of Property

18. Provisions For Periods Of Public Emergency

19. Protection Of Persons Detained Under Emergency Laws

20. Enforcement Of Protective Provisions

21. Protection Of Existing Laws

22. Interpretation And Savings

Chapter III - Citizenship

23. Person Who Become Citizens On Independence Day

24. Person Born In Belize On Or After Independence Day

25. Person Born Outside Belize On Or After Independence Day

26. Registration

27. Avoidance Of Dual Nationality

28. Citizenship Legislation

29. Interpretation

Chapter IV - The Governor-general

30. Establishment Of Office

31. Acting Governor-general

32. Oath To Be Taken By Governor-general

33. Deputy To Governor-general

34. Exercise Of Governor-general's Functions

35. Governor-general To Be Informed Concerning Matters Of Government

Chapter V - The Executive

36. Executive Authority

37. Prime Minister

38. Deputy Prime Minister

39. Performance Of Functions Of Prime Minister During Absence Or Illness

40. Ministers Of Government

41. Allocation Of Portfolios To Ministers

42. Attorney General

43. Performance Of Functions Of Minister During Absence Or Illness

44. Cabinet

45. Deputy Minister

46. Oath To Be Taken By Ministers Etc.

47. Leader Of The Opposition

48. Permanent Secretaries

49. Secretary To The Cabinet

50. Control Of Public Prosecutions

51. Constitution Of Offices Etc

52. Prerogative Of Mercy

53. Procedure In Capital Cases

54. Belize Advisory Council

Chapter VI - The Legislature

55. Establishment Of Legislature

The House Of Representatives

56. Composition Of House Of Representatives

57. Qualifications For Election As Member

58. Disqualifications For Election As Member

59. Tenure Of Office Of Members

60. Speaker And Deputy Speaker

The Senate

61. Composition Of Senate

62. Qualifications For Appointment As Senator

63. Disqualifications For Appointment As Senator

64. Tenure Of Office Of Senator

65. Appointment Of Temporary Senators

66. President And Vice-president

67. Clerks To Houses Of National Assembly

Powers And Procedure

68. Power To Make Laws

69. Alteration Of Constitution

70. Regulation Of Procedure In National Assembly, Etc

71. Oath To Be Taken By Members Of National Assembly

72. Presiding In House Of Representatives And Senate

73. Voting

74. Freedom Of Speech

75. Validity Of Proceedings

76. Quorum

77. Introduction Of Bills, Etc

78. Restriction On Powers Of Senate As To Money Bills

79. Restriction On Powers Of Senate As To Bill Other Than Money Bills

80. Provisions Relating To Sections 77, 78 And 79

81. Mode Of Exercise Of Legislative Power

82. Words Of Enactment

83. Sessions Of Legislature, Etc

84. Prorogation And Dissolution Of Legislature

85. General Elections And Appointment Of Senators

86. Determination Of Questions As To Membership Of National Assembly

87. Unqualified Persons Sitting Or Voting

88. Election And Boundaries Commission

89. Electoral Divisions

90. Increase Of Electoral Divisions

91. Redivision Of Electoral Divisions

92. Conduct Of Voting

93. Conduct Of Elections, Etc

Chapter VII - The Judiciary

94. Establishment Of Supreme Court And Court Of Appeal

95. The Supreme Court

96. Reference Of Constitutional Questions To Supreme Court

97. Appointment Of Justices Of Supreme Court

98. Tenure of office of justices of Supreme Court

99. Oath To Be Taken By Justices Of Supreme Court

100. Appeals To The Court Of Appeal

101. Appointment of justices of appeal

102. Tenure of office of justices of appeal

103. Oath to be taken by justice of appeal

104. Appeals to her majesty in council

Chapter VIII - The Public Service

105. Public Services Commission

106. Appointment, Etc. Of Public Officers

107. Appointment, etc. of permanent secretaries and certain other officers

108. Director of public prosecutions

109. Auditor General

110. Appointment, etc, of junior police officers

111. Appeals in discipline cases

112. Pension laws and protection of pension rights

113. Grant and withholding of pensions, etc

Chapter IX - Finance

114. Establishment of consolidated revenue fund

115. Authorization of expenditure from consolidated revenue fund

116. Authorization of expenditure in advance of appropriation

117. Contingencies Fund

118. Remuneration of certain officers

119. Public Debt

120. Audit of public accounts, etc

Chapter X - Miscellaneous

121. Code of conduct

122. National Symbols

123. Powers of appointment and acting appointments

124. Reappointments and concurrent appointments

125. Removal from office

126. Resignations

127. Saving for jurisdiction of courts

128. Power to amend and revoke instruments, etc

129. Consultation

130. National Seal

131. Interpretation

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