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Apr 6, 2011

How long will legislation allow people to be locked up without charges?

Doug Singh

The murder count stands at thirty-three since the beginning of the year. That has put the government in emergency mode. On Monday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced tough but controversial measures to deal with the lawlessness in the streets. Preventive Detention is one of the measures that the P.M. took to Cabinet on Tuesday to combat the increased violence. The measure, as evaluated by most critics, simply means rounding up the usual suspects for the night or the weekend. But some media reports have quoted that the legislation will allow officers to keep poor males locked up for up to three months without any pending charges.  And though it appears that convicts of petty crimes may actually spend less time behind bars, Minister of Police Doug Singh, says that the detention period is actually much less and will be an adequate measure when witnesses to crimes are being threatened before they give testimony in the courts.

Doug Singh, Minister of Police

“First of all it is not sixty or ninety days as is being touted out there by members of the media and certainly by members of the opposition—it certainly is not that—I don’t know where that number came from. In the initial piece of legislation that was submitted; was being proposed, it was seven days up to maximum of thirty days. The government is looking at perhaps an outside period of twenty-one days—perhaps maybe between fourteen to twenty-one days—certainly with checks and balances; certainly with provisions in their for the protection and to avoid the abuse. The previous proposal said seven days in the first instance and an order could be sought from a Judge to extend it up to thirty days. There will also be these kinds of safeguards in the constitutional amendment, but there will be also the provisional legislation that will come that will actually support this constitutional amendment that will deal with the detail safeguards that will spell out exactly how one will go about getting these kind of orders, what kind of a body will be established, the kind of independence and the kind of protection for citizen rights would be put in place to ensure that there is no abuse in this form of a legislation.”

Isani Cayetano

“In this particular case, for instance, if someone has been detained and released. Can there be another order to re-arrest that person or have him detained again if there is a suspicion?”

Doug Singh

“I can’t tell you that at this point in time that has been looked at, but as I said we are at the preliminary stages and anything is possible. You are suggesting, as an avoidance of abuse; that you just don’t release somebody and detain them. It is possible that provisions can be made for that but once again safeguards would have to be put in place to warrant that because there might be circumstances where you need to detain somebody for possibly longer; especially if it’s a threat to a witness. For arguments sake; if a pending case is ongoing and you need to actually keep that person out of circulation because of possible risks to a witness, it might be necessary. So we cannot eliminate it altogether but we certainly must put in place the provisions to safeguard it from abuse.”

Jules Vasquez, 7News

“Is there, specifically with preventative detention, the government, the Prime Minister has expressed he is absolutely determined to do it. However, when it goes to the House of Representatives for the required amendments with the law and the constitution, will there be the usual round of consultations, public consultations that accompanies any such law?”

Doug Singh

“All that will have to be discussed. We are talking about a constitutional amendment and Constitution amendment does have a process that it follows. So I assume that the very same process will be. I am not saying to the extent maybe that it was done before, but I suspect that all that will be discussed by cabinet and the decisions will be made accordingly. I cannot speak unilaterally.”

Jules Vasquez, 7News

“Yes, but I just want to be clear; as clear as the Prime Minister was, but the government will do this?”

Doug Singh

“The government is committed to do this.”

The Cabinet has also approved trial by judge alone for murder cases, but details about this new proposed legislation has not yet been disclosed.

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22 Responses for “How long will legislation allow people to be locked up without charges?”

  1. eyes on Belize says:

    The only thing that’s going to work in Belize right now is just give the Police a license to kill these murderers. The courts have completely failed us, due to corruption. So these people needs to face justice right away. Because due to corruption, paperworks get missing, Police get paid and twist up their stories. Or Mr. Barrow needs to start up a secret assassin team that kills all these murderer that’s on the street

  2. EMS says:

    Apparently because of their self righteous indignation and myopic truncated vision they are willing to try anything, extremities in order to save face in the light of their failure to provide good governance,transparency, safety and security for the populace of Belize. No doubt under the stewardship of Dean Barrow and his ruthless buffoons in the current cabinet of the GOB, the entire system has become lawless, heartless and extremely senseless to the everyday hardship, inequities and cold bloodedness of the many faceless nameless Belizeans in the jewel. Remember, it all began with the PM’s interference with the Judiciary, nationalizing BTL and his blatant refusal to follow the laws of the land and the ruling of the courts. Now once again, he is planning to interfere with constitutional rights of every citizen of the entire country. First it will be gang bangers and street people, followed by the suppression of political foes, unfriendly opponents of the GOB and its’ cronies. One day soon, it will be because the country is in a crisis we will be postponing the general elections until time permits. Perhaps, then finally there will be a subtle change in the way we do business, because all else have failed, therefore we will have to suspend the entire constitution with the possibilities of re-writing it, and perhaps becoming somewhat like Venezuela. Belizeans beware of the dangers that lurks in the dark days of the future of Belize under this self righteous, vain glorious Prime Minister. Imagine the possibilities, President Dean Oliver Barrow for life. Remember those very large life size , portraits/billboards in 2008 prior to the election, depicting the now wannabe dictator. When one reflects on those portraits it certainly reminds us of some of the dictators in Latin America and the middle eastern countries. Remember the udp were the ones’ to come up with the idea of the SIS. Belizeans wake up, rise up before it is too late, even Stevie Wonder could see where this arrogant individual is leading us to. These proposed constitutional amendments should be the straw that broke the camels back, Belizeans should start organizing to protest en mass to stop this manic from having his way. There are many other ways to deal with crime and criminal activities in the jewel other than meddling with and changing the constitution. Rally around these very serious and dangerous proposed changes. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

  3. Earl Grey says:

    and……………ONE’S CRIMINAL HISTORY HAS TO BE CONSIDERED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Lindsay Howard says:

    God help Belize. At this point, it doesn’t seem as if anyone else can. Certainly not the government.

  5. Steve says:

    It is obvious no one in this Government has a clue about fighting crime. Barrow is good at getting criminals off the hook, not locking them up. The backward situation in Belize is the result of the people putting people in government who lack the skills to lead and govern.

  6. Elgin Martinez says:

    Mr Dough Singh in ref to your statement of keeping someone locked up in the event that there is an altercation with the witness and the accused doesn’t make any sense.What happens when the accused person is released?He or she will still be a threat to the witness.

  7. BDF soldier says:

    This so called law should be only for the >>>>>>> in belize city who are killing innocent belizeans,this law should not be for the whole tiny country of belize,only for the city,and thats it.the bad name this ……… from city are giving to the country of belize is terrible,and yet as we belizeans see,how the PUP& UDP mafia keeps showing the city recidents with one project after another,while the rest of the country gets nothing,how can belizeans vote for such criminal organizations in power AKA PUP &UDP?it is a mistery,it is as if belizeans are under a SATANIC SPELL.that dont make them see who the pup and udp are.a bunch of LAWYERS as honorable ministers.

  8. javier solis says:

    PMS above (oops, EMS) is saying he is so against the proposed constitutional changes. Well, let him offer tangible solutions instead of his regular PUP rantings. He has to realize that the risk to politicians is two-fold: the PUP will someday win again, and this law will be there. Imagine a man like Fonseca with police powers and laws like these??? So there must be care, since the new laws can cut both ways. But for now, we must support their use for the good of the community. We have to act now and rid our streets of this filth. Get your blue head out of the ground PMS>

  9. Coralblack says:

    I have a ? for the PM, and Minister Doug Singh? Since you, Judges, and all other
    Public Servants took an Oath of Office. Under what Jurisdiction will (Preventative detention
    fall?) (Common Laws,Admiralty Laws, or Equity Policies). Since you took an oath as a (Public Servant) your duty is to inform the public to whom you serve, the full scope of this Policy, and since this policy will not discriminate between Peaceful law abiding Humans,and Criminals, do the (Peaceful Law Abiding Humans) have a right to enter into Lawful rebellion as stated in the (Magna Carta Article 61), when ever their Common Law Rights are Violated? YHWH El Olam

  10. Lucas says:

    As I write this opinion, in El Salvador, Gang members are appearing dead in the streets. It seems due to govt. impotence regarding crime, LA SOMBRA NEGRA ( black shadow) is reemerging. The black shadow is a type of vigilante organization that existed in the nineties I think. I have nothing against the preventive detention measure as long as the detainee’s name is not kept secret. That way we know who it is and where the detainee is and misterious disappearrance will be avoided specially of inocent individuals. I hope the proponent of this law will take into account of not portraying human right abuses. I think 14 days or more is too much. I suggest 7 days with the option of continous extension in blocks of 7days if necessary by order of a judge. However, who can convince me that the detainee’s connections outside will not eliminate an intended target. We all know that criminals in prison can control outside. I strongly disagree with trial by judge unless it is a panel of judges. It very easy for one individual to make a mistake specially without florensic proof than a group ‘…..FOR IN THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS THERE IS SAFETY” (Proverbs 11:14)

  11. Higher Level says:

    The Prime Minister says that 15 of the most feared high energy gang members approached him and from that meeting the idea to export them to the rural areas evolved. Now, if the Prime Minister knows who these 15 most feared high energy gang members are (and all evidence are that they are from his queen square constituency) why does he have to take the entire country in through all this foolishness. Deal with the real Dean. You know where the problem is. Deal with it. Don’t pass draconian laws that will punish the entire country because you are afraid to discipline your constituents.

  12. anonymous says:

    @higher level…what you said makes a lot of sense and actually brings to light the reason why Barrow and his cabinet have been so soft on crime…he is scared of loosing votes from his constituents.

  13. Disgusted! says:

    My question to these visionless @$$Hole$ is…….When the detainees are released after the detention time expires and they’re enraged and frustated with a thirst for blood, what do you think they’re going to do and who do you think will be the target of their anger. The innocent law abiding citizens! This is a failed initiative and it will result in a bloodbath!!! These criminals know that Dean Barrow and his government is afraid of them because the message was sent to him through his law partner that was ambushed. Now that the criminals know they will be arrested and detained on mere suspicions, they will DO things to warrant these arrests. BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY LEST THE PEOPLE BEAR ARMS TO DEFEND THEIR LIVES AND PROPERTY. KILL OR BE KILLED!!!

  14. B1984 says:

    I think Belize needs to implement the death penalty. Enough is Enough. How many more innocent people’s lives need to be taken for someone to care? Maybe if the targets would start being people of higher ranks in Belize, maybe then Belize will put a harsher punisment on these heartless criminal who serve no purpose to society. I’m just saying. Belize has become an Embarrassment to all who holds the title of being Belizean. Let’s get our country in order so that once again I can be proud to say “I am BELIZEAN”.

  15. B1984 says:

    I think Belize needs to implement the death penalty. Enough is Enough. How many more innocent people’s lives need to be taken for someone to care? Maybe if the targets would start being people of higher ranks in Belize, maybe then Belize will put a harsher punisment on these heartless criminal who serve no purpose to society. I’m just saying. Belize has become an Embarrassment to all who holds the title of being Belizean. Let’s get our country in order so that once again I can be proud to say “I am BELIZEAN”.

  16. Disgusted! says:

    The first step Doug Singh needs to take to start implementing drastic serious changes in combating crime is to RESIGN. Look for a career in your field of expertise…..Ru Paul drag race is seeking contestants and you need apply!!!! END OF STORY!

  17. ah tiaad says:

    No problem here, Lets start with Deanie and Dougie first. Who feels it knows it! Then we could talk .straight?

  18. Marcos Canul says:

    All leaders in society have a responsibility to play a part in this serious situation. GOB cannot do it alone. The Church in Belize has been deafeningly silent when their voices should be heard. The opposition needs to “man – up” and make their voices be heard as how they would fight crime and violence and join the government in this crusade. The Belize Times and El Guardian should stop making (or so they think) mileage out of this serious situation. We tend to get jittery about crime only when it knocks at our doors. 44 deaths is just too much in three months for a small country like Belize. We need unity in this situation.

  19. King says:

    How can we expect our young people not to act like animals? Did any of you see the way our leaders and the opposition were bickering and backchatting each other in the budget reading lately? If the people who are in control of this country can not control their emotions, outbursts and follow the simple rules of a house meeting which is speak when spoken to, then we should not be battering the youths. I do not agree with the crime situation, but i can understand that gob can do much more than what they claim to have done or are doing. I might sound cliche, but with the high cost of education, lack of jobs, no base for sports, entreprenuership or other forms of development, then our youths have enough time to plan their crimes and getaway, no wonder our conviction rate is so low. We have very talented children here in sports, acting, singing and other performing arts; does gov’t offer services to help these children develop further than school. Our national cricket team won gold in an international competition recently, what is gov’t doing for these athletes? Under whchever administration we are, we face the same problem; our gov’t steal from us, lie to us, and give priority to issues that can wait. I always laugh at the fact that if someone is robbed of the little they have in their pocket, the perpetrator faces years, but if a minister takes 2million dollars, he faces no charge. How can we stop crime if the biggest criminals are in control of our country. Belizeans on a whole need to play their part in slowing this situation. If we would study standard bearers and their way of life, type of thinking, contributions to society rather than voting for someone based on the political party they represent or their popularity, then i can see our country taking a different direction. First we need to get the criminals out of power (referring to both major political parties) and place peolpe their that are interested in the development of BELIZE and not themselves. Til then, we will forever face this problem. One great artiste says ” help the youths first and ask questions later”

  20. King says:

    Good point, Disgusted, we also need to give ministers portfolios that coincides with experience. I often ask myself, how can someone that has a BMA in education be the boss of someone who holds a PhD in that field. How can someone who has no experience in security be Minister of police.

  21. Earl Grey says:

    Marcos Canul………YOU GOT IT RIGHT.

    THE CHURCHES HAVE FAILED US……….they are not doing the work of Jesus, going out into the street and spreading the word of God’s love.

  22. ang says:

    Our population is still small enough to be controlled through curfews and more neighborhood watches. The putting more police on the streets is good. Now the most important thing, the parents of these kids being held liable if they are underage, and the involvement of the community to help apprehend and the commitment of the authorities to respond fast and process the killers fast how fast? Within a month’s time hang them depending on the viciousness of the crime. Curfews and hangings in olden days were used to control the crimes. Curfews help parents to keep the little ragamuffin killa rascals home or think twice. Step two work with gang leaders openly and keep at it, confront the problem in the community. Gang leaders looking for respect should help protect the community and work with them. The community would like to see every youth well employed and so on gang leaders should make them go to school and stop silly turf fights instead help protect the community by working with the police. The police would need to wipe their slate as clean as they could though.

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