G.S.U. supports preventative detention bill
Everyone agrees that something has to be done to rein in crime, but there is mixed reaction on sweeping constitutional amendments proposed by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in the House last Friday. The preventative detention bill has been especially controversial because some believe that giving the cops authority to detain persons for up to twenty-one days will lead to abuse of power. But the G.S.U.’s Assistant Superintendent Marco Vidal is defending this amendment saying there are measures to keep the cops in line and to protect the rights of civilians.
ASP Marco Vidal, Head of Gang Suppression Unit
“I think there is a lot of misrepresentation of how it will actually work. It’s not that the police will arbitrarily pick up someone and decide that this person is going to be locked up for twenty-one days. It’s not going to happen that way. There has to be justification and the person has to be brought before—from my understanding—they have to be brought before a court and show just cause why this person should in fact be detained for that period of time. So I don’t think there should be a fear from the public because there are certain mechanisms in place to ensure that there is no abuse of authority in that regard. But I think that a lot of the legislation, in particular the crime control and criminal justice amendment bill will in fact, with some modifications of course, will assist us in dealing with the gang problem because we need that legislative component for us to function far more effectively than we are currently operating since we’re going after the drugs and firearm. But understandably, we’re going after the drugs and firearm because the penalties for those are far higher than the current legislation provides for some of the offences that gang elements commit.
Far too long these persons think that they can just eliminate witnesses and get off murders. So there has to be some approach that will deal with these cases. It is not only Belize; what we are seeing now is what other countries that have this problem that are much bigger have dealt with already. So it is not any kind of draconian legislation as such. Other countries have already introduced those legislations because of the problems that they experience. And we have to look at those countries and how they deal with those problems so that we can learn from them and start adopting the changes in Belize.”