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Oceana referendum case struck out!

Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana on Wednesday struck out Oceana’s application for judicial review.
Oceana sought to indict Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai for rejecting 8,047 signatures on the NGO’s petition for an offshore oil drilling referendum.
Justice Arana upheld a submission made by the government’s attorney, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, who argued that Oceana had filed its application after the 14-day deadline for such applications had expired.
Barrow submitted that the NGO should have filed for judicial review no later than July 4; not days late. The time is based on when Arana gave her verbal permission on June 20, for the case to proceed.
Oceana, however, began its count on June 26, the day when the court perfected the written order.
Audrey Marie Bradley, Thomas Greenwood and Oceana in Belize had filed the case (Claim No. 225 for 2012) earlier this year, asking the Supreme Court for to review whether or not the signatures were improperly disallowed.
According to a Wednesday afternoon Oceana press release, Arana’s decision “brings to an end any legal attempt to hold the Government accountable for denying the Belizean people a choice to voice on whether or not there should be offshore oil drilling in Belizeans waters.”
Oceana’s Vice-President Audrey Matura-Shepherd explained that Oceana could appeal, but Oceans would first have to get Arana’s permission. If she denies the application to appeal, then they would have to seek permission from the Court of Appeal.
Matura-Shepherd said, “Government can never confidently say a majority of Belizeans want drilling for oil in our waters, and at all cost must find a way to silence the voice of the people on this issue. Government can use all and every form of technicality to silence the wishes of the people, but this issue will not go away. We will continue to work to allow the people of this country to have a say on offshore oil.”
She has also called on Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow to fulfill his March 2012 promise to get Cabinet’s approval to hold a referendum on offshore oil drilling.
Oceana proposes that the offshore oil referendum be held simultaneously with the mandatory Belize-Guatemala Referendum in 2013.
Matura-Shepherd maintains that the Election and Boundaries Commission did not follow the proper procedure to verify that the signatures were genuine. She added that Oceana remains committed to challenging the way the signatures were disallowed so that other referendum petitions are not denied on a mere technicality.

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