Sunday, June 20, 2010


By Ray Auxillou
This may be a complimentary article for Justice Abudulai Conteh CJ, renowned for bringing sanity and legality to a crooked justice system in Belize. At my age, one knows there is no justice in the Belize Legal system. My own opinion like many others of the experienced lay public, avoid the justice system as a Bar Association/political complex manipulating mafia. Akin to the words of President Eisenhower of the USA who warned the citizens of that country about the manipulation of government by the military-political industrial complex. The article written by young lawyer Audrey Matura-Shepherd describing her journey through the criminal mine field of Belizean non-justice is a powerful story. It is so powerful that this article needs to go down in our College level and University level, social and cultural history classes for reference. If we are to build a better Belize we need to listen to this lady.
Justice Conteh is being forcibly retired by the UDP administration by the age requirements and the better members of the Bar Association are protesting. This JUSTICE came into a court system that was so crooked and criminal it was a laughing stock. The article; CONTEH, THE COUNTRY AND THE CONSTITUTION describing her personal experience by young lawyer Audrey Matura-Shepherd can be found in the AMANDALA newspaper of Sunday June 20, 2010 and will undoubtedly be used for decades to come as a historical reference point in the DEVELOPMENT OF BELIZE.
Here are some quotes from the article:

“ I had to question where the justice in our “ justice system” was. As I recall it, I was constantly facing a system – yes, a SYSTEM designed to keep people oppressed and ignorant. “
She goes on to describe her family court cases with other lawyers who constantly compromised her position rather than fight for her. Many lawyers she claims have CONFLICTS OF INTEREST and NEVER declared them and do not to this day. Which describes legal white collar criminal activity in rather mild terms. Many magistrates were intimidated by rich and powerful politically connected lawyers. Their jobs depend on it.
She describes how her introduction to the political manipulation made her realize that justice was not about justice, but manipulation not for national development, but rather personal development. (self enrichment)
It was no surprise therefore for this young lawyer as a trainee, who was to be appointed to the SENATE for the then OPPOSITION PARTY, became victimized and a personal family court matter normally held in-camera was suddenly moved by political manipulation to the open public Magistrates Court so she would be dragged through public humiliation. It turned out to be a real political circus, she describes. The objective by the party in power to get a ONE YEAR CONVICTION for breach of a FAMILY COURT ORDER and thus be disqualified for a seat in the SENATE for the OPPOSITION. In those days as a student, she did not know about her right to an injunction, had no money to hire lawyers, or get a judicial review of having her family court case politically manipulated. Nor did she have enough knowledge to know that a lawyer who once represented her, could now represent the other side in the same matter. She did know that Belize JUSTICE was not justice even if she could not define it. That was the impetus to send her somehow to study law.
Politics removed Justice Sosa in a forceful way. She explains that the JUSTICE system in Belize is a CHECK & BALANCE mechanism against the one party elected dictatorship, we call a parliamentary democracy. ( We probably need to move to a proportional representation system ?) While this article is supposed to be about Justice Conteh and how he has dramatically changed at least one segment of the manipulated crooked legal system in Belize, by throwing out political and government instigated lawsuits, during his tenure, she started to write a newspaper column. The political powers promptly charged her with contempt of court. For that matter I have never met anyone who has anything but contempt for the Belize Bar Association and legal court system in the civil population. If they exist they are scarcer than Hens teeth? Prior to her case for contempt, two newspaper editors had previously spent time in prison on similar charges as the criminal political-legal complex mafia defended itself, but the OPPOSITION of the day rallied to her defense and she won her case. The intent was political, as a conviction would have prohibited her serving in the SENATE.
There was a JUSTICE that was on contract to Belize for the legal system, who openly took bribes and eventually even the politicians who were renowned for doing the same thing and their criminality, had to bow to public opinion and newspaper articles exposing the criminal activity and had him dismissed. The replacement was the basis of this article, Justice Abdul Conteh as Chief Justice and he promptly started to serve REAL JUSTICE without fear or favor. The current argument about terminating his contract is FEAR that we will slip back into the clutches of some other Commonwealth get rich quick, hired contract CHIEF JUSTICE.
The current justice system in Belize is better than before of say 3 to 5 years ago. It is certainly not good, but getting better. JUSTICE CONTEH is renowned for making these changes.
Aubrey goes on to describe the practice of Magistrates and Justices who make private deals with lawyers in their chambers. There are senior attorneys who use their political connections to dominate the legal and court systems. Now she is back in the legal system as a lawyer in her own right and realizes now that her gut feeling of the student years, can now find expression in a more legal form to the dismay of a good many of her colleagues in the BAR ASSOCIATION. She is confronting the legal-political mafia head on. As she points out, OUR Belize Political one party wins the government dictatorship for five years, creating public servants who become corrupted. ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY! Now that she has learned the nuances, tricks and inner methods of the criminal minded law system, she has found her growing up years and student years fears, were not PARANOIA. She does say there are a very FEW GOOD LAWYERS in the Belize justice system.
Belize has now developed two mafia low level street gangs and JUSTICE nowadays is often served with a gun and a hitman. The situation in the port of Belize City is now you can hire an assassin to get JUSTICE. It is both cheaper and quicker. Very recently this evolving development saw the law firm of the Prime Minister suffer a hit on his law partner, a close friend. It is not far fetched to expect criminal JUSTICES who answer to politicians of the CABINET, or take bribes for decisions will meet the same fate. You can see the trend. Already business disputes are being done that way using small port gangland assassins. We are learning much from the USA our mentor. Self serving get rich quick, politicians have not yet suffered this fate, but you can see the trend coming. That is the FEAR everyone in the BAR ASSOCIATION feels about the termination of JUSTICE CONTEH. There will be nobody to protect them using the JUSTICE SYSTEM in defying rapacious Cabinet Ministers on get rich schemes.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd is a good writer. Her crusade should be encouraged. She means well even if I personally do not agree with her opinion on everything. The country needs her and future historians are going to be studying her articles for writing books about the history of Belize in the modern era of this century. She can be also a powerful tool for change in the way we govern our country for the better.

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