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Nov 7, 2018

Human Rights Commission of Belize Concerned Over Threat of State of Emergency

Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams this week threatened to impose another state of emergency; this time to tackle the rising cases of armed robberies that have been plaguing the north and south sides of Belize City.  Last week Wednesday, Police Constable Osbourne Martinez, was shot and killed as he responded to the scene of an armed robbery at Belcove Hotel on Regent Street West. A trio from the PIV Gang in the Saint Martin’s area has been charged for his murder and other offences, and police believe that other members from that same faction are behind the slew of armed robberies. But is the suspension of the constitutional rights of Belizeans living in a particular zone, the best crime fighting tool? Vice President of the Human Rights Commission of Belize, Kevin Arthurs, says the threat is cause for concern.

 

Kevin Arthurs, Vice President, Human Rights Commission of Belize

“The videos of these brazen robberies are cause for tremendous concern and no Belizean wants to see, as we’ve seen a couple of them result in death of a police officer. But the trauma to the overall society is something that has to be addressed. The questions that still remains and echoes to this current threat is whether or not the proper tool is being waved in front of the Belizean people. And in order for us to assess what will be effective, we first have what we did not have the first time; we first have a reference point as to what happens during a state of emergency and we also have an opportunity to assess whether or not the last one was effective. It is important for us to not get into a quicksand solution, like a drug where you take a little bit of the pain killer, but you don’t treat the actual problem and then you end up taking more dosages and more dosages until the actual medicine is ineffective. Also of concern is the issue…and listening to the language of the police department and it is of grave concern to us because the invoking of a state of emergency is a political decision, decided on by the legislative arm of government. The police, which falls under the executive arm of government, cannot invoke a state of emergency and maybe it was a misspeak or maybe he was referring to a recommendation that probably will be made. If it is a recommendation that the police is making, then we hope that the proper consultation is done to make sure we get it right.”

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