Belize City: Wednesday, 2nd January 2019
During the last ten years Belizeans have witnessed that violent crime has taken the centre stage within our society and that the government has demonstrated no effort to formulate a strategy that would reduce the incidences of crime or enhance the participation of the citizenry to assist police with this growing problem. Instead, we have seen time and time again where elements of the police department are involved in crime from drug trafficking facilitating drug planes with the logistics of their landings, human trafficking, and contraband to mention a few.
The arrogance that the police has displayed during the last ten years is tied to the political manipulation and the recruitment policy which requires a recommendation from UDP ministers of government.
This arrogance has been displayed throughout the country with brutal force more so especially in remote areas and caught on video on at least two occasions in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
On the first occasion, police said they were going to investigate and punish these elements. However, that was just to appease growing pressure from the public. After they made arrests, police elements walked free because they claim the victims chose not to press charges.
This past weekend we saw a repeat of the same despicable act of policemen in San Pedro again where they brutalized a man kicking him in the head and other parts of his body while he laid defenseless on the ground. This act was also caught on video and posted on facebook which caused the public to react immediately to this kind of brutality in the execution of their duties. This also alarmed the Human rights Commission of Belize who sent out a release lamenting this kind of brutal force displayed by the police.
The People’s United Party (PUP) joins the rest of the nation and sent out a release condemning the outrageous, criminal actions of two Police Officers in San Pedro, captured on video footage. These police did not care that they were being recorded on camera; on various cell phones, one Police Officer brutally beat a man with a baton before kicking him in the face. That man, and others with him, had already been subdued, were on the ground and posed no threat whatsoever to the officers.
This type of brutality should not be allowed to continue like business as usual within the Belize Police Department. There are far too many instances where officers have walked outside the law with impunity, and far too many instances where officers acting like criminals have been protected by the department. Enough is enough! The PUP demands that the officers caught on camera be removed from duty and that criminal charges be levied on them.
The PUP additionally condemns the Barrow Administration for yet another year in which the general law-abiding citizenry were paralyzed by crime. The PUP said they have no doubt that using creative management of the statistics; the Minister of National Security will soon stand before the nation and claim that it was a wonderful year under his stewardship, and that crime is down.
He should ask the families of the 144 persons who were murdered if crime is down. He should ask the family of Anny Young if crime is down. He should ask the many, many Belizeans who were assaulted, if crime is down. He should ask the many businesspersons who were held at gunpoint, beaten and their establishments robbed if crime is down.
The year 2018 recorded 144 murders, and that is not counting those persons still missing, and those whose remains have not yet been identified. In his New Year’s address, the lame-duck Prime Minister donned a suitably sombre face as he recited his worn spiel of better administration and more resources and more training. Belizeans have heard this mombo jumbo year after year and yet, nothing ever changes.
As we mourn a New Year’s Day carnage which for the first time in history recorded five murders, we ask the Prime Minister once again to join with all social partners, including the Opposition to formulate a real, comprehensive crime-fighting strategy. This is not the time for grandstanding or for petty politicking. It is not the time for lame-duck administrating or for circus antics by a lame-duck Prime Minister. Let’s get it right, before more blood runs in our streets.