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Aug 6, 2014

PM Barrow In the Dark About Lockdown of BML Workers

It was an incredible thing to see as many as twenty-two women packed in a holding cell at the aptly named ‘piss house’ in Belize City. Four workers allegedly three garbage in front of City Hall, but even those just standing around were locked down by Police – a total of forty-one workers. Most of them were detained for twelve hours, crammed in a tiny cell. It seems very unreasonable and excessive punishment for the offences – littering, loitering and taking part in an unlawful public meeting – so today, at a press conference, we asked the Prime Minister for a comment on the matter. Even though it’s been on the news since Monday, he claimed he didn’t known of the all day lockdown of BML workers – most of them women.

 

Helen Samuels

Helen Samuels, Sanitation Worker [File: August 5th, 2014]

“We get lock down da piss house from yesterday…from nine o’clock yesterday till nine o’clock last night…some of we gat asthma, we pressure raise, dey one deh look fu faint weh inna the cell, we vomit up…weh wrong with dey people. Da soh they wah handle the poor people deh? They can’t handle we soh. We da poor people. Yu hafto look out fu the poor people.”

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I can’t comment when the factual basis for your criticisms may or may not be accurate. I will say that if indeed your platform on which you make your argument is true, then your conclusions would seem to follow. But I can’t put it any higher than that. Look, very seriously, generally for petty offences, for small offences, I have long been a crusader for saying to the police man when you have to arrest or detain people on these minor matters, you process them as quickly as you can and you get rid of them. There is no cause for holding people overnight, for example, for what is eminently bailable offences and not anything to make any great deal over. So that has always been my position and that will remain my position. On the other hand, kudos and props to the workers for taking action to vindicate their rights. But when you take a stand, you take that stand knowing that if you are going to break the law, you do so in a way that sees you acting in your full senses and being prepared to take whatever consequences follow as a result. I don’t think that I can go beyond that. I repeat though, as a general principle, that whether it is workers protesting and technically breaking the law and whether it is regular citizen, in case of minor offences, the police has no cause to detain people any longer than is absolutely necessary for the paperwork to be completed and for these people to be put on their own bail or given some sort of station bail.”

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