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Jul 18, 2018

National Citizen Security Summit Tackles Public Safety, Crime and Violence

One of the biggest challenges facing the country has to do with citizen’s security which is being affected by a range of criminal activity; from petty incidents to a network of gangs and drugs.  From private citizens to businesses, all have become vulnerable to crime. Today, the Ministry of National Security brought together government and private sector to flesh out a strategy that will see those alarming crime numbers going down to ensure citizen’s security. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

As it concerns the safety of all Belizeans, the security of one’s person is closely associated with freedom and is a fundamental entitlement assured by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Even as an inmate, however, a prisoner that is held unlawfully is assured legal remedy in the form of habeas corpus.  From a broad perspective, the issue of citizen security includes the process of establishing, strengthening and protecting democratic civic order, eliminating threats of violence and allowing for safe and peaceful coexistence.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“What I am hoping to happen out of this is to get some concrete solutions, some concrete actions, some concrete projects that will help to bring this crime situation under control, especially when it comes to timelines.  I want us to be very firm in how much time we have to implement what we’re implementing, who is going to be responsible for it because it’s not just going to be the police department or the Ministry of National Security, it’s going to be all of us in this.”

 

Today, at the Civic Center, participants from across the public and private sectors have gathered for the National Citizen Security Summit.  The assembly of stakeholders is led by the Ministry of National Security, with buy-in from other government and non-government agencies.  Crime, says CEO George Lovell, is attributed to the sale and use of drugs.

 

George Lovell

Col. George Lovell (Ret’d), C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“The problem of crime is believed to stem from drugs, the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.  The use of drugs and alcohol in the community is a daily occurrence and the children are given the wrong example.  Additionally, there is a thought that the decriminalization of marijuana has complicated the matter whereby parents and guardians are seen smoking in the homes with their children at home witnessing their behavior.  It is believed that addressing the drug problem is addressing the root cause of crime.”

 

While the Belize Police Department continues to crack down on the drug trade, it is widely believed that the long arms of the law are only directed at the smaller players in the drug game; the bosses, for the most part, going largely untouched.  This notion has in part prompted law enforcement to revise its crime fighting strategy.

 

Allen Whylie

Allen Whylie, Commissioner of Police

“We live in an ever-changing world.  As a result, the specific tactics and actions of our crime fighting strategy will change over time as crime changes and progress is made.  The Belize Police Department has aligned its resources to support this new strategy in order to continue to reduce the level of crime and violence in Belize.  This plan requires all units, branches, precincts, divisions, formations and regions to work in a collaborative and coordinated manner.  Police alone and their actions cannot and will not bring down the level of crime to the extent that we as a society can be happy with.”

 

The complex approach outlined in the National Crime Fighting Strategy to integrate violence prevention, crime control measures and focusing on various issues such as a lack of social cohesion, freedom from unpleasant consequences, drug trafficking, as well as the proliferation of illegal firearms are all carrying over into the recommendations coming from the summit.

 

John Saldivar

“It all works together, it’s about tweaking, it’s about reconfiguring.  As I also mentioned in my presentation, I believe that the crime fighting strategy has been working, it has been producing results.  Over the last couple of months we have seen the crime statistics beginning to trend downward.  We believe it will continue to do so and that is as a result of all we’ve been doing in the recent months.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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