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Jun 23, 2011

Human Rights Commission to address community on risky crime bills

Antoinette Moore

The bills that went through second and third readings in the House of Representatives are intended to help curb the violent crimes that are plaguing the streets of Belize, particularly in the old capital. The bills are highly controversial and seem to target gangs and criminal elements, but further inspection shows that they extend to law abiding citizens. That is why the Human Rights Commission of Belize is hosting a community meeting on Saturday at the Cummberbatch Field in Belize City at two p.m.   Organizers say that the open community meeting will discuss how the liberty and freedom of innocent Belize City residents will be greatly affected by the amendments. According to one of the presenters, Attorney Antoinette Moore, the proposed amendments are an attack on the constitution.

Antoinette Moore, Member, Human Rights Commission of Belize

“We are having an open community meeting to discuss with the community the proposed constitutional amendments that will affect the liberty and freedom of all of us.”

Jose Sanchez

“I know the entire area has been crime ridden. What are the specific issues you’re going to be discussing?”

Antoinette Moore

“The constitutional amendments of course include the preventative detention proposal, the trial without jury proposal, a proposal that deals with death penalty without challenge or essentially without challenge and several others. So we hope to discuss with the community those various proposals that the government has set forth, but also to discuss possible alternatives. We understand the government of Belize is trying to fight crime and is trying to look for solutions to the crisis we have of violent crime in the country. And so we are hoping that some solutions may come from the community itself—by people that are affected by the crimes and the murders that are happening. And so we hope to have an open discussion on what can we do to improve the situation in our communities. Also to understand what these amendments will mean—whether these in fact will help improve or not. Our organization believes that they will not help improve, but in fact may make things worse. And we are very concerned from a rights based approach about what this means for our constitutional freedoms.”

Jose Sanchez

“Are there specific words or terminology that may make human rights an issue?”

Antoinette Moore

“Well certainly. The amendments directly attack—and I will use that word—attack four fundamental freedoms that are set out in the constitution of Belize. Our constitution which is our supreme law has an entire section on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms so certainly human rights is an essential part of our constitution. And the amendments that the government has proposed essentially restrict the rights in four different areas:

The preventative detention is in the area of liberty; is actually section five of the constitution. It says that we have a right to liberty and we should not be deprived of our liberty except under certain circumstances. So if for example you have an infectious disease and government needs to quarantine people, then certainly your liberty can be restricted. If you’ve committed a crime, you’ll be deprived of your liberty because you’ve committed a crime and if you’ve been sentenced you’ll be sentenced or if you are accused of committing a crime, you may be detained or arrested. But the preventative detention fits under none of those special circumstances. It doesn’t accord with any basic fundamental rights; it opposes those rights saying that you can be deprived of your liberty because you are suspected of gang affiliation or any other criminal activity. So although the government has stated that this proposal is aimed or targeted at gang members or those involved in gang activities; the way the proposal is written encompasses a much broader group. It could include anyone because anyone could say you are suspected of criminal activity—it’s just a broad brush.”

Jose Sanchez

“It could simply be a group of young men walking on the street.”

Antoinette Moore

“It could be. If a police officer says he suspects that they are engaged in criminal activity or engaged in even talking about criminal activity, they potentially could be subject to this preventative detention which of course will allow the government to detain you for up to fifty two days.”

Two of the bills are highly controversial; preventative detention and trial without jury.

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8 Responses for “Human Rights Commission to address community on risky crime bills”

  1. intelligent says:

    I agree with Mrs. Moore I wouldn’t want my rights as an ordinary citizen be taken advantage of especially being I’m not from Belize city. These laws will give the police too much powers corrupted as they are rather than “to serve and protect” they will use it against a lot of law abiding citizens. It will affect us all. Let ur voices be heard.

  2. islander says:

    LOOKS LIKE THE PRIME MINISTER IS PAVING THE WAY FOR DICTATORSHIP,

    he

    Restricted gun ownership that now only his friends own guns.
    Allows the police and bdf to shoot n kill civilians.
    Is taking away privately owned companies.
    Is going to legalize CONCENTRATION CAMPS “preventative detention” and if you oppose him he can have the cops say you are a gang member and you end up in jail.

    DICTATORSHIP is coming guys.

  3. Coralblack says:

    Soon People are going to see the real Hypocrisy in this lie they called Democracy. People
    need to start familiarize themselves with the difference between Common Law, Admiralty Law and
    Equity Policies. Until then people will never be able to see the sinister games that these Politicians, Judges and Lawyers are playing. Trial with out jury sound like (Dictatorial ship) to me. I guess
    by the time most people wake up it will be too late, but some never care until they themselves are
    been violated or taken advantage of. Power to the People. YHWH Hahkamyah

  4. Germain Garrett says:

    and who protect the lives and rights of those who are killed, attacked, threatened?????
    HUMAN RIGHTS? for who< and who helps in the defense of the affected or victim, you Mrs Moore,
    how much a criminal pays to be defended on a not guilty knowing he/she is guilty?
    the poor affected families loose a loved one and then looses on paying lawyer (liar) at what expense? There is no democracy when democracy is threatened. why fear about the law when one is criminal free? el k no debe a nada le teme.

  5. Fairman says:

    I totally agree with Antoinette Moore on this one because I personally have witnessed a Sergeant of police who habitually abused the anti-domestic violence law at Patrol Branch in Belize City. A woman go to the police station late in the evening to make a false report against her husband when the particular sergeant is working. This sergeant immediately orders the detention of the unsuspecting husband, then use the police vehicle and the police driver to drop him off at the lady’s house. Before the shift is over, the police driver is ordered to go and pick up the sergeant. Early in the morning the lady returns to the police station to withdraw the false report claiming that she just wanted her husband to cool off at the piss house. Because I was in the group/shift that the sergeant was running, I witnessed every single repeated occurrences.
    The idea of conducting trials without the witnesses is totally irresponsible because police officers who want to look good in court can fabricate statements to get wrong convictions. There is no way Dean Barrow can guarantee that this won’t happen. It is already happening without the enabling laws that is why there are few convictions from the large number of imprisoned people.
    The intention to hire witnesses is another stupid thing because anybody who wants to collect some money can invent a story and send anybody to prison for it.
    How can we support the execution of a person convicted through such an irresponsible legal system?
    Recently, I wrote on this website that the solution to the problems is the re-introduction of home discipline and economic reform but because the leaders have no intention to do only what is good for Belize they conveniently ignore the long-term positive solutions.
    The other part of the solution is to get rid of all the dishonest, incompetent, and criminal police officers. There are many peaceful law abiding citizens who would prefer to remain that way but because some police officers and politicians violate our rights and brutalize some of us for nothing, some of us are very likely to become deadly soon regardless of whatever draconian laws they put in place.

  6. Mr,Minister says:

    THAT IS TRUE AND ONLY HE WHO FEELS IT KNOW IT

  7. Elgin Martinez says:

    I disagree with Attorney Moore.Drastic times calls for drastic measures.

  8. Concern Citizen says:

    It is so sad to see the way the PM is devising the complete take over of Belize and the poor/ordinary man cannot see. These poloticians are so corrupt thaqt they willfabricate lies about their opponents and have them arrested no no reason at all!!! This is a VERY Dangerous thing for BELIZE; Belizeans be informed, get your facts and demonstrate against this PREVENTATIVE DETENTION!!!!

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