Belize’s constitution was passed a day before its independence, on September 20, 1981. The constitution, which is also known as the supreme law of Belize, affirms that the nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which take into consideration the supremacy of god. Faith in human rights and fundamental freedom, the position of the family in a society of free people and the dignity of the human person. The constitution provides the three branches of government: The Legislative, The Executive and The Judiciary.
The Legislative Branch
The constitution provides for a bicameral legislative, which means that it has two legislative chambers. The legislature is called the National Assembly, and is comprised of House of a Representative and a Senate. This system is operated on the principles of parliamentary democracy, based on the British system.
The House of Representative presently consists of 31 members, who are elected by the people in a general election that takes place every 5 years. The election division or constituency is currently distributed as follows: four (4) each of the districts of Corozal and Orange Walk. Cayo has six (6); two (2) each of the districts of Stann Creek and Toledo: ten (10) for the Belize City; and three (3) for rural Belize districts. The House of Representative is presided over during their meetings by a speaker, elected by the members from among themselves, or from outside the house.
The Senate is made up of 12 appointed members known as Senators and one (1) president. they are appointed by the Governor General as follow: six (6) appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, three (3) appointed on the advice of the leader of the opposition, one (1) on the advice of the Baize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Business Bureau, and one (1) on the advice of the National Trade Union Congress and Civil Society Steering Committee. The most important function of the Senate is to ratify and confirm bills or laws after they have been passed by the House of Representative.
The Executive Branch
The executive authority of Belize is vested in her majesty Queen Elizabeth 2, and this authority may be exercise in Belize on behalf of the Queen by the Governor General. The Queen appoints the Governor General, who must be a Belizean. The first governor appointed at independence, was the right honorable Dame Minita Gordon, who served from 1981 to 1993. The current Governor General, who served since 1993, is sir Colville Young.
The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Cabinet, which is the chief policy making body in the government, is made up of persons who formulate the policy and program of the government. The cabinet is appointed by and headed by the Prime Minister. The ministers are drawn from the National Assembly. Ministries change, depending on the need and programs emphasized by the government.
The Judicial Branch
The judicial system of our country is independent of any political partisanship in the execution of their legal judgment. The Supreme Court is the highest instrument of justice in Belize, the judges of the Supreme Court are the chief justice and other judges know as Puisne judges. An appeal of decision of the Supreme Court can be made to the court of appeal, comprised of three visiting justices.
The Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, given after consultation with the leader of the opposition. The Puisne judges are appointed by the Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the judicial and legal service section of the public service commission and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister, given after consultation with the leader of the opposition.
There is also a Magistrate’s Courts, referred to as the “lower court,” with location in every district capital. In Belize City, there are four Magistrate’s Courts.