Second Quarterly Meeting of Justices of the Peace Poorly Attended

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The Association of Justices of the Peace (JP) and Commissioners of the Supreme Court held its second quarterly meeting for 2012 in San Pedro on Saturday August 18th. Approximately 30 of San Pedro’s 250 JPs attended the meeting.

Senior Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of the Supreme Court and National president of the Association of the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of the Supreme Court, Adrian Daniel Madrid spoke of the meeting; “Normally we travel all around the country to have our quarterly meetings and this time we decided that we are going to have our meeting here in San Pedro. There are around 250 JP’s on the island. I wish that we could get that many out for the meeting but I don’t think that we will be able to get that.

The purpose of the quarterly meeting was to present reports of activities locally and nationally. As president of the local chapter of the JPs, Claudio Azueta presented his report, while Adrian Madrid presented on the activities of the National Association. Following the reports, the floor was opened for questions from JPs in attendance.

Afterwards, it was time for the election of the governing body of the local chapter. This election is held every two years. Madrid explained who can vote. “Our bylaws dictate that we hold elections of officers every two years [once we have a quorum]. The financial members are the ones who have the rights to make decisions for the association. A financial member pays a one time registration of $10 and after that it’s $5 dollars a month – this is not mandatory – as many JPs tell us that they cannot afford to pay $5 a month, which we can accept. However we do ask you to join the association; become a member and come to the meetings.

According to Madrid there are over 3,000 JPs within the country of Belize. “A JP is a person that can act as a Magistrate and can sign documents for his fellow Belizean. There are hundreds and hundreds of documents that we sign; passport application forms, border-permit application forms, social security forms, transactions for land forms, affidavits and more.” How does one become a member? “At the present moment there are no requirements for someone to become a JP, the Minister simply appoints a JP as he/she wishes. A lot of people are JPs but don’t want to do the work of a JP, they only accept the post because the Minister appoints them. The association does have standards but at the present moment, because the act of 2005 has not been signed into law by the Attorney General, then this association has its hands tied and we cannot work the process.” Madrid further explained, “If you want to become a JP through the association, you must apply. You must fill out an application form; you must produce a police record, two letters of recommendations, a letter stating the reasons why you want to become a JP and most important of all, you must attend training. We are certainly not in need of more Justices of the Peace in the entire country. What we need is for those over 3,000 members that we currently have, to get up and come out and start serving the people, that’s what we need. And if you don’t want to be a JP, just resign and let us find people who WANT to serve”.

Re-voted as President was Claudio Azueta, with Vice President, Alfonso Castillo. Secretary is Clive Welch, and his assistant secretary is Martha Guerrero, while Amanda Syme is Treasurer, with Martha Sabido as assistant Treasurer. Madrid ended by encouraging JPs to continue the work of serving the Belizean people under the motto “To serve with the pen, which is mightier than the sword.” The third quarterly meeting was scheduled for October in Punta Gorda.

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