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Chapter 4 of the Laws of Belize - THE CONSTITUTION OF BELIZE

PART V

The Executive

36.-(l) The executive authority of Belize is vested in Her Majesty.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive authority of Belize may be exercised on behalf of Her Majesty by the Governor-General either directly or through officers subordinate to him.

(3) Nothing in this section shall prevent the National Assembly from conferring functions on persons or authorities other than the Governor-General.

37.-(l) There shall be a Prime Minister of Belize who shall be appointed by the Governor-General.

(2) Whenever the Governor-General has occasion to appoint a Prime Minister he shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader of the political party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House; and if no political party has an overall majority, he shall appoint a member of that House who appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members of that House.

(3) If occasion arises for making an appointment to the office of Prime Minister while the National Assembly is dissolved, then, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, a person who was a member of the House of Representatives immediately before the dissolution may be appointed as Prime Minister.

(4) The Governor-General shall remove the Prime Minister from office if a resolution of no confidence in the Government is passed by the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister does not within seven days either resign from his office or advise the Governor-General to dissolve the National Assembly.

(5) The office of Prime Minister shall also become vacant-

(a) if the holder of the office ceases to be a member of the
House of Representatives otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of the National Assembly;

(b) if, by virtue of section 59(3) of this Constitution, he is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the House; or

(c) if he is informed by the Governor-General that the Governor-General is, in accordance with subsection (2) or (3) of this section, about to reappoint him as Prime Minister or to appoint another person as Prime Minister.

(6) In exercise of the powers conferred on him by this section the Governor-General shall act in his own deliberate judgment.

38. The Governor-General shall, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, designate a Minister as Deputy Prime Minister to whom the Prime Minister may from time to time depute such of his functions as he may specify.

39.-(l) Whenever the Prime Minister is absent from Belize or is by reason of illness unable to perform the functions conferred on him in accordance with this Constitution, those functions (other than the functions conferred by this section) shall be performed-

(a) by the Deputy Prime Minister; or

(b) in the absence of the Deputy Prime Minister or if he too is likewise unable to perform those functions, by such other Minister as the Governor-General may authorise for that purpose.

(2) The Deputy Prime Minister shall cease to perform the functions of the Prime Minister when he is informed by the Governor-General that the Prime Minister is about to resume those functions.

(3) A Minister authorised to perform the functions of the Prime Minister under subsection (1)(b) of this section shall cease to perform those functions when he is informed by the Governor-General that the Deputy Prime Minister is about to assume, or that the Prime Minister is about to resume, those functions.

(4) The powers of the Governor-General under this section shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister:

Provided that if the Governor-General, acting in his own deliberate judgment, considers that it is impracticable to obtain the advice of the Prime Minister owing to the absence or illness of the Prime Minister he may exercise those powers-

(a) in accordance with the advice of the Deputy Prime Minister; or

(b) if he likewise considers it impracticable to obtain the advice of the Deputy Prime Minister, in his own deliberate judgment.

40.-(l) There shall be, in addition to the office of Prime Minister, such other offices of Minister of the Government as may be established by the National Assembly or, subject to the provisions of any law enacted by the National Assembly, by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.

(2) Appointments to the office of Minister shall be made by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, from among members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate:


Provided that persons holding the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives or President of the Senate may not be appointed to the office of Minister.

(3) If occasion arises for making an appointment to the office of Minister while the National Assembly is dissolved, then, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, a person who was a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate immediately before the dissolution may be appointed as Minister.

(4) The office of any Minister shall become vacant-

(a) if the holder of the office ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of the National Assembly;

(b) if, by virtue of section 59(3) or 64(3) of this Constitution, he is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate;

(c) if the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, so directs;

(d) if the Prime Minister resigns from office within seven days after a resolution of no confidence in the Government has been passed by the House of Representatives or is removed from office under section 37(4) of this Constitution; or

(e) on the appointment of any person to the office of Prime
Minister.

(5) In this section, “Minister” means a Minister of the Government other than the Prime Minister.

41.-(l) The Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may, by directions in writing, assign to the Prime Minister or any other Minister responsibility for any business of the Government, including the administration of any department of government:

Provided that responsibility for finance shall be assigned to a Minister who is a member of the House of Representatives.

(2) Where a Minister has been charged with responsibility for any department of government, he shall exercise general direction and control over that department of government.

42.-(1) The Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government.

(2) The office of Attorney-General shall be the office of a Minister, with responsibility for the administration of legal affairs in Belize.

(3) No person shall be qualified to hold the office of Attorney-General unless he is a person who has for at least five years been entitled to practise as an advocate in a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and
criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or in the Republic of Ireland or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court.

(4) If a person holding the office of Attorney-General is for any reason unable to perform the functions conferred on him by or under any law, those functions may be performed by such other person, being a person qualified as aforesaid (whether or not that person is a member of either House of the National Assembly), as the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may direct.

(5) Legal proceedings for or against the State shall be taken, in the case of civil proceedings, in the name of the Attorney-General and, in the case of criminal proceedings, in the name of the Crown.

43.-(1) Whenever a Minister other than the Prime Minister is absent from Belize or is within Belize but by leave of the Governor-General is not performing the functions of his office or by reason of illness is unable to perform those functions, the Governor-General may authorize some other Minister to perform those functions or may appoint a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate to be a temporary Minister in order to perform those functions; and that Minister may perform those functions until his authority or, as the case may be, his appointment is revoked by the Governor-General or he vacates office as a Minister under section 40(4) of this Constitution.
(2) The powers of the Governor-General under this section shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister:

Provided that if the Governor-General, acting in his own deliberate judgment, considers that it is impracticable to obtain the advice of the Prime Minister owing to his absence or illness he may exercise those powers in accordance with the advice of the Deputy Prime Minister.

44.-(l) There shall be a Cabinet of Ministers for Belize which shall consist of the Prime Minister and the other Ministers.

(2) The Cabinet shall be the principal executive instrument of policy with general direction and control of the Government and shall be collectively responsible to the National Assembly for any advice given to the Governor-General by or under the general authority of the Cabinet and for all things done by or under the authority of any Minister in the execution of his office.

(3) The provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall not apply in
relation to -

(a) the appointment and removal from office of Ministers and
Ministers of State, the assignment of responsibility to any Min- ister under section 41 of this Constitution, or the authorisation of another Minister to perform the functions of the Prime Min- ister during absence or illness; or

(b) the dissolution of the National Assembly.

(4) Whenever practicable the Prime Minister shall attend and preside at all Cabinet meetings; at a meeting of the Cabinet from which the Prime Minister is absent, any other Minister appointed by him for the purpose shall preside.

45.-(l) The Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may appoint Ministers of State from among the members of the House of Representatives or of the Senate to assist Ministers in the performance of their duties.

(2) The office of a Minister of State shall become vacant-

(a) if the holder of the office ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of the National Assembly;

(b) if, by virtue of section 59(3) or 64(3) of this Constitution, he is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate;

(c) if the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, so directs;

(d) if the Prime Minister resigns from the office within seven days after a resolution of no confidence in the Government has been passed by the House of Representatives or is removed from office under section 37(4) of this Constitution; or

(e) on the appointment of any person to the office of Prime
Minister.

46. A Minister or a Minister of State shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance and office.

47.-(l) There shall (except at times when there are no members of the House of Representatives who do not support the Government) be a Leader of the Opposition who shall be appointed by the Governor-General.

(2) Whenever there is occasion for the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition the Governor-General shall appoint the member of the House of Representatives who appears to him most likely to command the support of a majority of the members of the House who do not support the Government: or, if no member of the House appears to him to command such support, the member of the House who appears to him to command the support of the largest single group of members of the House who do not support the Government.

(3) If occasion arises to appoint a Leader of the Opposition during the period between a dissolution of the National Assembly and the day on which the ensuing election of members of the House of Representatives is held, an appointment may be made as if the National Assembly had not been dissolved.

(4) The office of Leader of the Opposition shall become
vacant-

(a) if the holder of the office ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives otherwise than by reason of a dissolution of the National Assembly;

(b) if by virtue of section 59(3) of this Constitution, he is required to cease to perform his functions as a member of the House; or

(c) if he is removed from office by the Governor-General under the provisions of subsection (5) of this section.

(5) If it appears to the Governor-General that the Leader of the Opposition is no longer able to command the support of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives who do not support the Government or (if no member of the House appears to him to be able to command such support) the support of the largest single group of members of the House who do not support the Government, he shall remove the Leader of the Opposition from office.

(6) Subject to the provisions of section 61(3)(b) of this Constitution, during any period in which there is a vacancy in the office of Leader of the Opposition, the provisions of this Constitution containing the requirement that action shall be taken in accordance with the advice of, or after consultation with, or with the concurrence of, the Leader of the Opposition shall have effect as if there were no such requirement.

(7) The powers of the Governor-General under this section shall be exercised by him in his own deliberate judgment.

48. Subject to the direction and control of the Minister pursuant to section 41(2) of this Constitution, every department of government shall be under the supervision of a public officer whose office is referred to in this Constitution as the office of a permanent secretary:

Provided that two or more government departments may be placed under the supervision of one permanent secretary.

49.-(l) There shall be a Secretary to the Cabinet whose office shall be a public office.

(2) The Secretary to the Cabinet, who shall have charge of the Cabinet Office, shall be responsible, in accordance with such instructions as may be given to him by the Prime Minister, for arranging the business for, and keeping the minutes of, the Cabinet and for conveying the decisions of the Cabinet to the appropriate person or authority and shall have such other functions as the Prime Minister may direct.

50.-(l) There shall be a Director of Public Prosecutions whose office shall be a public office.

(2) The Director of Public Prosecutions shall have power in any case in which he considers it desirable so to do-

(a) to institute, and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law (other than a court-martial) in respect of any offence alleged to have been committed by that person;

(b) to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that have been instituted or undertaken by any other person or authority; and

(c) to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by himself or any other person or authority.

(3) The powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions under subsection (2) of this section may be exercised by him in person or through other persons acting under and in accordance with his general or special instructions.

(4) The powers conferred on the Director of Public Prosecutions by paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (2) of this section shall be vested in
him to the exclusion of any other person or authority:
Provided that where any other person or authority has instituted criminal proceedings, nothing in this subsection shall prevent the withdrawal of those proceedings by or at the instance of that person or authority and with the leave of the court.

(5) For the purposes of this section, any appeal from a judgment in criminal proceedings before any court, or any case stated or question of law reserved for the purpose of any such proceedings, to any other court (including Her Majesty in Council) shall be deemed to be part of those proceedings:

Provided that the power conferred on the Director of Public Prosecutions by subsection (2)(c) of this section shall not be exercised in relation to any appeal by a person convicted in any criminal proceedings or to any case stated or question of law reserved at the instance of such a person.

(6) Subject to the powers of the Attorney-General under section 42(2) of this Constitution, in the exercise of the powers vested in him by subsection (2) of this section the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.

51. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and of any other law, the Governor-General may constitute offices for Belize, make appointments to any such office and terminate any such appointment.

52.-(l) The Governor-General may-

(a) grant a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, to any person convicted of any offence;

(b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a speci- fied period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;

(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any
punishment imposed on any person for any offence; or

(d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on any person for any offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Crown on account of any offence.

(2) The powers of the Governor-General under subsection (1) of this section shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of the Belize Advisory Council.

53. Where any person has been sentenced to death (otherwise than by a court-martial) for an offence, the Attorney-General shall cause a written report of the case from the trial judge (or the Chief Justice, if a report from the trial judge cannot be obtained), together with such other information derived from the record of the case or elsewhere as he may require, to be taken into consideration at a meeting of the Belize Advisory Council, so that the Council may advise the Governor-General whether to exercise any of his powers under section 52(l) of this Constitution.

54.-(l) There shall be a Belize Advisory Council (hereinafter referred to as “the Council”) which shall consist of a Chairman who shall be a person who holds, or has held, or is qualified to hold, office as a judge of a superior court of record, and not less than six other members who shall be persons of integrity and high national standing of whom at least two shall be persons who hold or have held any office referred to in section 107 of this Constitution and at least one shall be a member of a recognised profession in Belize:

Provided that no public officer other than a judge of a superior court of record shall be appointed as Chairman.

(2) Two members of the Council shall be appointed by the
Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given with the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition, and the other members, including the Chairman of the Council, shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition:

Provided that in the process of consultation with the Leader of the Opposition for the appointment of the Chairman, the Prime Minister shall use his best endeavours to secure the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.

(3) No person shall be appointed as a member of the Belize Advisory Council unless he is a citizen of Belize, except that a member of the Council who holds or has held office as a judge of a superior court of record need not be a citizen of Belize provided that he is a Commonwealth citizen.

(4) Members of the Belize Advisory Council shall be appointed for a period of ten years or such shorter period as may be specified in their respective instruments of appointment.

(5) A member of the Belize Advisory Council shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance and office.

(6) The office of a member of the Belize Advisory Council shall become vacant -

(a) at the expiration of ten years from the date of his appointment or at the expiration of the period specified in the instrument by which he was appointed, whichever is the sooner;

(b) when he attains the age of seventy-five years;

(c) if he resigns such office by writing under his own hand addressed to the Governor-General; or

(d) if by a resolution of the House of Representatives supported by two-thirds of the members of that House he is declared unable to discharge the functions of his office by reason of per- sistent absence or infirmity of body or mind, or to be in breach of the provisions of section 121 of this Constitution.

(7) The functions of the Belize Advisory Council shall be-

(a) to advise the Governor-General in the exercise of his powers under section 52 of this Constitution;

(b) to perform such other tasks and duties as are conferred or im- posed on it by this Constitution or any other law.

(8) In the exercise of its functions the Belize Advisory Council shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.

(9) The Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice
of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, shall appoint one of the members of the Council to be the Senior Member.

(10) The Chairman and in his absence, the Senior Member, shall
convene meetings of the Council as appropriate for consideration of matters which in accordance with this Constitution or any other law the Council is called upon to consider.

(11) The Chairman and in his absence, the Senior Member, shall preside at all meetings of the Council, and in the absence of both the Chairman and the Senior Member, the member of the Council elected by a majority of the members attending the meeting shall preside at that meeting:

Provided that in any case where the Council is convened to discharge its duties under sections 88, 98, 102, 105, 108 or 109 of this Constitution, or where the Council is convened to hear an appeal from an officer to whom section 106 or section 107 of the Constitution applies, the Chairman shall
preside at that meeting:

Provided further that where the Council is convened to consider the removal of the Chairman, some other person who holds or has held office as a Judge of a superior court of record appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, shall act as the Chairman for that purpose.

(12) At meetings of the Belize Advisory Council-

(a) the quorum shall be five members;

(b) decisions shall be taken by a majority of the votes of those members of the Council present and voting; and

(c) in the event that votes are equally divided on any matter, the Chairman, except when he is the Governor-General, shall have a casting vote in addition to his original vote.

(13) The Belize Advisory Council shall regulate its own procedure.

(14) The Belize Advisory Council may, subject to the provisions
of this section and to its rules of procedure, act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership or the absence of any member.

(15) The question whether or not the Belize Advisory Council has validly performed any functions entrusted to it by this Constitution or any other law shall not be enquired into by any court of law.

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Arrangement of Sections

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