Thursday, October 30, 2008

JP’s of San Pedro sworn in

On Friday, October 24th, six Senior Justices of the Peace, and six Justices of the Peace took their oath of office at an official ceremony held at the San Pedro Town Council office in Ambergris Caye. The guest speaker for the occasion was Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., who congratulated the new Senior Justices of the Peace and the Justices of the Peace, and welcomed them to the ranks of those that are already serving their communities by affording voluntary and selfless service in support of the judicial system.

On hand for the official swearing-in was Priscilla Banner of the Attorney General’s office who spoke about the legislation and gave a run down of the duties and obligations the Justices of the Peace should uphold. Banner emphasized that the system of Justices of the Peace was the foundation of the Belizean legal system, and urged the new office holders to exercise the functions of their office without fear or favor, affection or ill-will. All eight individuals did this on oath over the sacred Holy Bible.

Banner also encouraged the new Justices of the Peace (JP) to familiarize themselves with their roles as set out in the Justices of the Peace Manual, and pointed out that the new JP’s should seek to cement bonds of fellowship by seeking guidance from fellow Justices of the Peace through the Association of Justices of the Peace. Banner further stated that in the Legislature under the Justice of the Peace Act, the officers have an obligation to the Code of Ethics and should uphold and follow them diligently. Failure to comply would be a breach of the Code of Ethics and would entail legal action. As per the Senior Justices of the Peace, they have in their power to conduct legal marriages which is stated in the Marriage Act of Belize.
A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a judicial officer appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice and deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. Justices of the Peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office.
These twelve individuals were chosen based on their civic duty and commitment to their communities. Individuals sworn in were: (Senior JP’s) Ruben Gonzalez, Fidel Ancona, Wilfredo Alamilla Jr., Anne Elizabeth Longsworth, Yolanda Parham, and Daniel Guerrero. Whilst Justices of the Peace were: Abelina Heredia, Herman Acosta, Adaleida Gonzalez, Gonzalo Muñoz, Severo Guerrero Jr., and Melita Guerrero.
After the official formalities, Minister Heredia thanked the new Justices of the Peace for accepting their new office of serving the community of San Pedro Town in a voluntary capacity.

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