Another Guyanese-born judge has delivered an important decision against a Belize minister of government which will be a blow to the Dean Barrow administration, since that administration has a razor-thin majority.
Justice Courtenay Abel on Friday recalled Minister Elvin Penner from the Cayo North constituency after more than 2000 electors voted for him to be recalled following allegations of mass corruption. The issue ended up in court after the Chief Election Officer, Josephine Temai invalidated 337 signatures that had been collected in a petition to trigger the highly anticipated recall.
Four members of the opposition PUP challenged the ruling of the Chief Election Officer and Justice Abel found that her action was irrational, unlawful, arbitrary and unreasonable and had resulted in the disenfranchisement of electors who had legitimate expectation that the recall process would have been fair and genuine. The judge then granted permission for a judicial review which will pave the way for the recall of the Minister who is facing charges of issuing false passport to a Korean who is incarcerated overseas and never entered Belize.
Justice Abel left Guyana a long time ago and went to Anguilla where he practised as an attorney for many years before joining the judiciary.
Two months ago another Guyanese-born judge, Justice Kenneth Benjamin issued an order for the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie to investigate Minister Penner. The judge found that the Police Chief acted irrationally, illegally and unlawfully when he chose not to investigate the Minister. The application for a writ of mandamus was brought by opposition leader Francis Fonseca.
There are three other Guyanese judges in Belize and there are several others in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and in Barbados who dispense justice without fear, favour or partiality.