Belize mired in a tangled web of citizenship definition: By: Hubert Pipersburgh

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Hubert Pipersburgh

As re-registration continues unabated. The issue of Guatemalans’ citizenship or a lack thereof remains front and center. The constitution of Belize has four categories of citizenship. Section 23( born before 1981), section 24( born after 1981), section 25( by descent or born abroad), section 26( by naturalization).
Chief among the reasons these designations are important are for several reasons. For one thing, it helps to understand how citizenship is defined under Belize’s constitution. For another, it gives a clarification of who can be granted or are entitled to citizenship.
Moreover, it also helps to underscore what categories falls under the ministerial discretion. For instance, section 23 and 24 are entitled. Section 25 and 26 are granted per the constitution. The minister has no authority or discretion on section 24 and 26 citizens. Only on section 23 and 25 citizens.  In addition, Section 29 (3) of Belize’s constitution carries two distinct conditions. First, If you show allegiance and second, if you are citizen of a country that doesn’t recognizes Belize. Thus, you are not qualified to naturalize If you are citizen of Guatemala or if you show allegiance.
Again, according to section 29(3) the minister have discretion in section 25 and 23 citizenship not 24 and 26 citizenship which is what Guatemalans are designated.
It’s a widely held belief by many that section 29 (3) only applies to persons claiming citizenship via section 26 ( naturalized) or section 25( by descent). It also applies to persons who are entitled to citizenship and persons who are granted citizenship.
No one shall be entitled to be a citizen of Belize who is a citizen of country who does not recognize our sovereignty such as Guatemala.
Using the constitution, no one can claim citizenship on this part (part 3 of the constitution ) if you are citizen of a country who does not recognizes Belize.
Notice I’m not saying granted I am saying entitled such as myself a section 23 Belizean. So the one individual the constitution disqualifies is that a born Belizean be a citizen of a country that does not recognizes Belize.
Consider the children of Guatemalans born in Belize: Section 144 of the Guatemalan constitution automatically designate them as Guatemalans at birth. Section 29 (3) of Belize constitution stipulates you cannot claim section 24 citizenship if you are a citizen of Guatemala. In short, since ministerial discretion does not apply to section 24 citizens, they are disqualified even though they are born in Belize. They are not Belizeans using that constitutional definition.
True, Guatemalans can renounce. However, Guatemalan officials has either sent mixed signals or have offered no definitive clarification to Belizean officials regarding renouncement of their citizenship.
Additionally, Guatemalans can renounce, but run afoul of section 19 of the Nationality Act, invalid renouncement. So since Guatemala do not recognized their renouncement it’s invalid and according to section 19, which makes rescind or revoke a mute point because they were never Belizeans.
Unlike 21-1-c of the Nationality Act that states frauds were Belizean until the declaration they are not legally a citizen.
My sincerest hope is that this issue is not ignored because it is a legitimate public policy issue. Going forward, somethings need to be done, not precipitously and it must not disrupt the life of these people. This is an issue that should be put to a referendum.
I in no way want to disrespect or disrupt anyone. However, we are a constitutional democracy and the Supreme Law of the land is the constitution.

The Belize Nationality Act states in Chapter V Sec 19:
In any case where any person purports to renounce citizenship of any country for the purpose of acquiring, retaining or resuming, under any provision of this Act, the status of a citizen of Belize, and it is found at any time that the renunciation was not in accordance with or not effective under the law in force in that behalf in such other country, that person shall be deemed never to have acquired, retained or resumed, under that provision, that status of a citizen of Belize; and if the Minister makes a declaration to that effect in any such case, the declaration shall be final.