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Mar 13, 2019

U.S. Human Rights Report Alleges Corruption by Government

On Tuesday, the government had to defend the blacklisting of Belize by the European Union as a Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes. Today, the Human Rights Report by the U.S. State Department is giving Belize a black eye. The twenty-two-page report cites allegations of corruption among public officials as well as abuses by the police department, trafficking in persons, child labour and violence against the LGBTI community. Here are some of the highlights of the report with Duane Moody.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The 2018 Human Rights Report has been released by the U.S. State Department.  There is some good news, but in various areas there were allegations of unlawful killings by security forces, corruptions by government officials, crimes involving violence targeting the LGBT community, trafficking in persons and child labour. The document is twenty-two pages long.  It records the alleged killing by a police officer of a resident from Punta Gorda. At the time, it was reported that the officer was under the influence of alcohol and that the victim did not have a firearm as the officer had claimed. An investigation found it was a case of extrajudicial killing and the family of the victim was financially compensated. It also records the beating death of an Orange Walk resident at the hands of seven B.D.F. soldiers and one member of the police Special Branch over a suspected cell phone theft. The group, who are members of the BSAG, was charged with murder, but when the case went to court, the file was lost. Another human rights concern deals with the thirty-day state of public emergency in response to gang violence. Of seventy persons detained, forty were kept in detention and the others released.  There were no charges against them. There was also a high rate of acquittals and cases withdrawn due not insufficient evidence. As it relates to corruption, there were numerous allegations against ministers, chief executive officers and deputy ministers.  The allegation against Minister Anthony Martinez was noted. An employee accused him of setting up a scheme to profit from public funds through housing though the employee was not a contractor. Martinez denied the allegation, but there was no investigation. On the upside, there was general freedom of the media; human rights groups operated without destruction and the government ran awareness campaigns against gender-based and domestic violence.

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