Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997 - Belize, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9fd18.html [accessed 5 July 2015]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
One person was sentenced to death and seven others remained under sentence of death. Three people had their convictions or death sentences quashed on appeal. No executions were carried out. In June, Belize acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Dean Tillett was sentenced to death for murder in May. His appeal to the Belize Court of Appeal was heard in October and the Court's decision was pending at the end of the year. Seven others sentenced in previous years remained on death row. They included Rupert Burke, who was convicted of murder in 1995, Adolph Harris and Marco Tulio Ibañez (see Amnesty International Report 1996). At the end of the year, Rupert Burke was awaiting the outcome of his appeal to the Belize Court of Appeals. Adolph Harris' petition for leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) in London, the final court of appeal for Belize, was dismissed in November. A constitutional appeal on his behalf was pending in the Supreme Court at the end of the year. Marco Tulio Ibañez' appeal to the JCPC was also pending at the end of the year. Another death-row prisoner, Wilfred Lauriano, was awaiting the outcome of his petition to the JCPC for leave to file a constitutional motion at the end of the year. In another capital case from Belize the JCPC ruled that the Supreme Court, in its 1995 ruling on Wilfred Lauriano's appeal, had incorrectly attempted to limit the JCPC's jurisdiction in granting leave to appeal on capital cases (see Amnesty International Report 1996). Pasqual Bull, who received a last-minute stay of execution in August 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996), was granted leave to appeal to the JCPC in March; the full hearing of his appeal was pending at the end of the year. Herman Mejia, who had also received a last-minute stay of execution in August 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996), was refused leave to appeal to the JCPC in March. Nicolás Antonio Guevara's appeal to the JCPC was dismissed in February. In March, a constitutional appeal on behalf of Pasqual Bull, Herman Mejia and Nicolás Antonio Guevara was dismissed by the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court of Belize on the grounds that it was of a "frivolous and vexatious nature". The Belize Court of Appeal quashed the Supreme Court's ruling in June and remitted the applications to the Supreme Court for a full hearing of the appeal. However, in July the Chief Justice ruled that the Court of Appeal had acted in error in sending the case back to the Supreme Court. In October, the Court of Appeal overruled this decision and sent the case back to the Supreme Court. The hearing on the merits of the constitutional appeal was pending in the Supreme Court at the end of the year. The grounds for this appeal included a claim that the conditions under which death-row prisoners were kept constituted inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and as such were a violation of the Constitution. Conditions in Hattieville Rehabilitation Centre, where all prisoners under sentence of death were held, were reported to be insanitary and grossly overcrowded. Early in the year, the Belize Court of Appeal overturned the death sentence on Anthony Bowen (but not the conviction for murder) as he had been under the age of 18 at the time of the offence (see Amnesty International Report 1996). In March, the JCPC allowed an appeal on behalf of Alfred Codrington (see Amnesty International Report 1995) and referred the case back to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal, after examining his claim that his trial counsel was ineffective, ordered a retrial. At the retrial Alfred Codrington was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. The JCPC also allowed an appeal by Lindsberth Logan, quashing his murder conviction and substituting one of manslaughter, and referred the case back to the Court of Appeal. The Court imposed a 20-year prison sentence. In March, the JCPC allowed an appeal by Ellis Taibo (see Amnesty International Report 1996), ruling that it was doubtful there had been enough evidence for a murder conviction at the original trial and ordering the Court of Appeal either to retry Ellis Taibo or to release him. He was released in May 1996 after nearly four years on death row.