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Sep 6, 2018

Other legal tools available to address crime says Attorney Kevin Arthurs

The Human Rights Commission of Belize says it is looking at the legal foundation of the public emergency and monitoring the measures being taken on the ground.  While Attorney Arthurs says that criminals should not be allowed to wantonly impose terror on the Belizean population, there are other legal tools available other than invoking a proclamation that has dangerous and far reaching effects. 

 

Kevin Arthurs

Kevin Arthurs, Vice President, Human Rights Commission of Belize

“The question here is what method do we use to get a result that we need. If you are for example a doctor and you are doing surgery, you need the proper tools to do it. You ought not to use a hammer to do surgery that you should use a scalpel with. So one of the concerns from the human rights perspective is what tool are you using. And if you notice the tool that we have chose to use as a country is the constitution itself. Under the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act, there is a provision, section twelve that allows the police to do exactly the same thing that they are doing now. And I have heard the Deputy Commissioner and Acting Commissioner of Police say that the reason why they chose not to go that route, which I think he implicitly agreed was probably the better route, is because there was no Crime Control Council in place. Now, the difficulty with that situation is that the crime situation has been escalating from since March and if that was the issue, then we had sufficient time to put in place and reengage the Crime Control Council so that would not have been an issue. If you remember as well, Duane, recently we passed a slew of legislation to deal with gang members so a lot of the tools which would be needed to address the scourge of crime that we are having would be to use those provisions because as we are hearing and we have to believe the authorities when they speak—when they say they know exactly who they want to target. And so my question then is if you know exactly who you want to target, which are particular persons, then why use this cast net and use the canon of the constitution when you could have used ordinary legislation.”

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