THINK ABOUT IT (Jan 27)

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A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

The rampant hustling, stealing and corruption which took place under the government of Dean Barrow will now set an important precedent which, hopefully, will send a historic message to crooks and thieves in any government.

The people of Belize turned against Dean Barrow and his Ali Baba-type of government, with a vengeance on Election Day 11th November 2020. Only 5 UDP candidates survived the massive rejection by voters. UDP corruption was high on the list of reasons why.

Belize’s new Prime Minister, in accordance with the law has appointed a three member Commission to inquire into the multitude of reports of hustling and stealing of government vehicles, assets, missing monies and lands.

We wish the evidence would result in persons being criminally charged and if the counts find them guilty, they go to jail. It is the only way our country can send the right message and put a halt to crookedness in government. The Commission will comprise of a representative from the Public Service Union, one from the chamber of Commerce and the Chairman will be an experienced lawyer, Andrew Marshalleck.

Prime Minister Briceño has ordered that the inquiry be held in public. This is a serious matter and it will give members of the public and the media a good opportunity to learn how the public service should function to protect public assets and how things went very wrong under Barrow, now considered Belize’s worst Prime Minister.

We expect the Commission to hold their first meeting next month. We expect that within six months that an interim report should be on the Prime Minister’s desk. We hope public officers will be allowed, anonymously if necessary to call the chairman or a confidential secretary to provide information which will help the Commission to send for files, documents, payments records and summons those involved.

Belizeans will need to better understand that when crooked public officers, Ministers government, and their cronies and families hustle and thief public funds they deprive needy citizens from getting direct help such as the grocery assistance and a little one hundred dollars. The latter are thousands of struggling families.

Corruption under Barrow, coming to a television or radio near you.

THE POLICE PROBLEM

The Police will become Minister Kareem biggest problem. This is humble opinion of this opinionated colonist.

The police will also become a problem for the Prime Minister and his new government.

We sound this early warning from now, a mere five weeks after government changed on 11th November 2020.

The previous government, frustrated over its own inability to do something effective against gang violence and a spiraling murder rate formed a Gang Suppression Unit, GSU, granted that UDP government was an incompetent one, there are lessons to be learnt.

The GSU, instead of solving one problem, became a second problem. Belizeans ended up with two gangs. The young men with deadly guns in the streets and one in GSU uniform.

Never in the history of Belize have a group of police been so lawless, so cruel and such violators of the fundamental rights of citizens. And with such impunity.

The institutions of Belize were of no help to the abused citizens of Belize. For ten long, disrespectful years this country lived with this festering sore. Where police officers in military uniforms beat up people, broke into their homes, planted bullets, lied in Court, targeted persons with persistent harassment and on and on. We all know the disrespectful abuses, lawless conduct and violation of the very laws that police are to uphold.

The Ministry responsible for the police, for ten years under three different Ministers, turned a blind eye, and worse exercise no oversight, no control, no internal investigation into the sickening reports of over-reaching.

Three different personalities publicly condemned the GSU: Hon. Said Musa, a two-time Prime Minister, Hon. Francis Fonseca former leader of the PUP, and Hon. John Briceno, now our Prime Minister. Such a hot button issue, the GSU, became that the PUP promised the people they would be disbanded. They have all changed their GSU uniform, for other uniforms, mostly military. None have been disciplined, none demoted, none dismissed. They have all gotten away with years of wrong doing. Lucky fellas, ah!

Why are we turning on the Police? Because, we deserve a better country to live in. Because, police are an important part of our society. Because the majority of police are good, decent persons, but it only takes a few bad ones to spoil the whole bunch.

Rogue police are a problem all over the world. The USA, with its dynamic democracy and open media, have big problems with police officers, apart from the insipient racism.

The GSU were given five hundred dollars a month seemingly to beat up people. After ten years, we have more gangs, not less. A failure by any measure. CIB the Crime Investigation Branch, the most important Unit in the police, are treated like Cinderella. They get $183.00 to buy civilian clothes, because to be in police uniform will be a big giveaway to the undercover status. Information is that the Head of CIB in Belize City wants the Minister to please transfer him to a District Administration position.

Imagine, the most effective crime fighting personal are demolished. Their working conditions are discouraging. We highlight this to say there are no policies coming out of the police, there are no initiatives.

Shucks, there is no community policing going on yet. Despite the new Minister telling the nation this is one of the objectives of his government.

The Professional Standard Unit is a sick joke. We wish to respectfully suggest the Attorney General look at the INDECOM model used in Jamaica.

[Editor’s Note: The columnist is entitled to his opinion and does not speak directly for the People’s United Party nor directly for the Belize Times.]