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Sep 28, 2018

Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act Amended for the Umpteenth Time

John Saldivar

The state of emergency for two south side neighborhoods is presumably nearing its end.  That notwithstanding, another amendment was tabled before parliament today.  The Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act was once again brought before the House of Representatives with a revision in respect of bail restrictions for gang membership and other offenses.  The reintroduction of that bill was met with some concern from members of the Opposition; however, Belmopan Area Representative and Minister of National Security John Saldivar explained its purpose.

 

John Saldivar, Area Representative, Belmopan

“Madame Speaker, I didn’t realize that this simple amendment that is intended to correct an anomaly that was created in our previous bill with respect to bail conditions for gang members would have sparked such a wide ranging discussion about crime.  But since it has, let me first of all take this opportunity congratulate the Belize Police Department and the Belize Defense Force in ensuring that Belizeans enjoyed the September Celebrations without any major incident in any of our celebration activities.  Let me also take this opportunity to thank the police officers who operate in what we know as Precinct One of Belize City because since the declaration of the state of emergency that precinct has recorded zero major crimes.  I also want to state that the reason behind this bill was simply to ensure that gang members who commit offenses under the various criminal justice, crime control criminal justice and gang offenses within our current laws, that they be restricted from obtaining bail immediately.”

 

Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Area Representative, Lake Independence

“I believe this must be the tenth or eleventh time we are here since 2008 bringing amendments to either the crime control and criminal justice act or the criminal code.  I think we first had amendments in 2008, twice in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and this is the second time in the last five months we are having amendments and not much has changed really.  Every time we come here you get the impression that these are some stringent measures to be tough on crime and to be tough on criminals and in fact I believe in it was in April of this year that we passed a sweeping legislation that would see gang leaders and gang members get up to forty years in prison if they are convicted of being leaders of gangs or members of gangs or participating in criminal activity with gangs.  Year in year out we make these amendments, but year in year out the level of crime increases in this country.”

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