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Jan 23, 2018

How Belize’s Murder Rate Stacks Up in Region

In an addendum to the Economist Intelligence Unit report on Belize, the organization discusses the rise in the rate of murder in several Caribbean countries, due to gang feuds related to the drug trade and extortion. The E.I.U. cites that a disproportionate number of victims are young, low-income males and that most Caribbean countries share weaknesses in police, judicial and legal systems, which impede the control of gang-related crime. In the case of Belize, the E.I.U. cites one hundred and forty-five murders in 2017, above the official count of one hundred and forty-two by the Belize Police Department. The cited rate of forty murders per one hundred thousand citizens is an increase of five percent from 2016. Belize’s rate is comparable to the Bahamas, with thirty-one murders per one hundred thousand and one hundred and twenty-three reported; Guyana, with one hundred and sixteen murders but a rate of only fifteen per one hundred thousand; and St. Kitts and Nevis, reporting just twenty-three murders but a rate of forty-two per one hundred thousand. Jamaica, with more than one thousand murders reported, has a rate of fifty-six per one hundred thousand. The E.I.U. projects minimal impact on tourism for some countries but notes that high-profile cases tend to drive down visitation by tourists. Police have promised an explanation for the disparity in their reports, and Home Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington noted that every violent death does not necessarily add up to murder.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Area Rep., Orange Walk East [File: January 8th, 2018]

“The murder rate – in 2016, we had a hundred and thirty-eight murders; in 2017, we have had a hundred and forty-two murders. That is the official statistics from the Police Department, and that will be issued to the public [at] a press conference next week and also they will address other issues, that the media have concern in terms of the disparity between what the media say is the amount of murders and what the police say is the amount of murders.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Home Affairs [File: January 5th, 2018]

“The fact that people are found dead, as a result of violent activity, does not necessarily mean that they were murdered.  Murder has a very specific connotation in law and people could get killed in consequence of actions by others where they are defending themselves, or people could die in consequence of suicide, you know.  So it is not correct to suggest that every violent death is a murder.  I think what would be more proper is to use the expression that people seem to have died from violent means, but to conclude that it is a murder, to my mind, I’m not sure whether that is proper.”

 

Police have yet to hold the promised press conference.

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