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Mar 31, 2016

Ombudsman’s Annual Report Details Over 200 New Complaints

The annual report issued by the Office of the Ombudsman has been released. The document comprises thirty-nine pages and covers the period of January first to December thirty-first, 2015. Prepared by Ombudsman Lionel Arzu, the document will be tabled in the House and Senate as is required by law.  A total of two hundred and seventeen new complaints of wrongdoings, corruption, injustice or injury were made to the Ombudsman.  The overwhelming number of cases, ninety-one, involved new complaints against the Belize Police Department with complainants claiming that the police neglected to investigate or improperly investigated reports of criminal activities. Other complaints against the police were that they stole property and others were claims of malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. The report also documents complaints against the courts system and proceedings, as well as against authorities such as Lands and Surveys; Immigration and Nationality and Human Services Departments. Arzu talks about the report.  

 

Lionel Arzu

Lionel Arzu, Ombudsman

“The report has a total of two hundred and seventeen new cases. There is a large amount of the cases that indicated that we have not investigated and it is one of two things; we don’t have jurisdiction over those cases and there are other cases. For example there is not enough evidence at our office that will warrant an investigation. So we have asked complainants to come forward with these other components of the allegations and once they bring them then we can start an investigation. There is also a small percentage that we have that have been investigated and we at this office take credit for the efforts of the staff. We don’t have a big staff and so we have to give kudos to the staff that make sure that there is a report of the function in this office and for the nation and the world to know what we do here in a given year.”

 

Duane Moody

“So what are the setbacks?”

 

Lionel Arzu

“We can point to several setbacks, we try to work in collaboration with government ministries department and one of those that we are closely linked to is the Professional Standards Bureau of the Police Department. If you notice each year the cases continue to be largest from that department, even though compared to previous years there have been less; a small decrease against the police but they are still the largest as one entity.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir, give us a comparison where the figures are now compared to 2014 maybe even 2013.”

 

Lionel Arzu

“2015 we have two hundred and seventeen complaints. I believe there were a little more in 2004 and 2013, I don’t have the figure off hand, and they’re most likely in the book because we always do comparison. But one thing I do know is from those couple of years as related to the police department the complaints are not that significantly less but it is less. I can recall last year there was at least around ninety-nine, we are at ninety-one now so  that’s less complains against police as a department. But still ninety-one is a huge number and out of all those complaints it’s not like we have been able to investigate fifty or resolve fifty of those for example, we are far less than that so our efforts combined with the police has to double up, and there is only so much we can do, but if we work together like I have always explained to them, we can achieve a lot more than as a single entity.”

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