The New Year started with a bang and not necessarily those made by the cheerful sounds of fireworks. Instead the beginning of the year was marred by gun shots, femicide, murder and mayhem. By the looks of it 2019 will be a year to remember in Belize, and most certainly not as a “tranquil haven”. The blood of our sons and daughters should no longer be allowed to “hollow the sod” with such impunity.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams made his usual appearance regurgitating his now standard insipid reassurances that he will “do what needs to be done.” This in regards to the video showing glaring disregard for human rights. We remind Deputy Commissioner Williams that the Police Department has a rather scandalous reputation in regards to human rights violations. In the Report on Human Rights practices tabled by the US Department of State in 2016 it is highlighted that “the most important human rights abuses in Belize included the use of excessive force by security forces (especially the police.)” The report also said that the Government of Belize (GOB) “ignored reports of police abuse, delayed action, failed to take disciplinary action, or transferred accused officers to other areas within their department.”
We would like to jog the strangely selective memory of the Deputy Commissioner with the name of Edwin Ixpatac who died in Police Custody. The 30 year old was reportedly beaten by officers on duty. We remind you that reports of police brutality occur countrywide but in the town of San Pedro in August of 2016 Allen Delroy Martinez complained of abuse by police. Let us also highlight the incident in April 2017 that led to no less than 5 residents of that same town to be injured including a female resident beaten savagely by a plain clothes policeman. Video footage of that melee show Police Officers discharging as many as fourteen live rounds in public. In many of these cases police officers are placed on interdiction, which means that they continue to receive a portion of their salary while they are suspended from active duty while investigations are ongoing. The Police Department is mired in PR inferno, when rouge police are not busy landing narco-planes they are out violating human rights in the most heinous displays. A favorite Proverb reminds us that “A promise is a comfort to a fool.” Belizeans are no fools and your empty words and promises hold no comfort for the families of those who have fallen victim to violence in the streets, the victims of femicide, and even less to the families of those victims who have suffered abuse at the hands of the Police.
The time for words has passed. The events unfolding require action not recycled rhetoric. Investigation of these allegations must be swift, justice must not be delayed, criminal charges must be brought against the offenders and prosecution of these should be efficient and effective. These police officers must be dismissed and never again be allowed to enter the public service. Belizeans will settle for no less! Mathew 7:20 exhorts that “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” We are now left to harvest the bitter fruit that this UDP Government has produced for Belize; increases in poverty, hunger, gender based violence, crime, murder, corruption, impunity, unemployment, and inflation!