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Jun 13, 2016

Belize Courts Go Digital

Today, the U.S. made a significant donation to Belize’s justice system through its Central American Regional Security Initiative, CARSI. The Embassy has been working with the judiciary to overhaul the criminal justice system since 2012 and a significant milestone was reached today. If you’ve ever been in the Magistrate’s Court during a trial, you’ve seen the Magistrate taking copious notes while witnesses are forced to speak very, very slowly to keep pace. Well now, that’s thing of the past since our Courts have now gone digital, thanks to the US. The symbolic handing over of the upgrade, valued at around seven hundred and fifty thousand Belize dollars, was done this morning at the Supreme Court.


Kenneth Benjamin

Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice

“Today, we are gathered to place on record an historic event which is in essence a transition from the manual to the digital. I am pleased to announce that as of today, there are ten Courtrooms in the Supreme Court in Belize City, Belmopan, Dangriga and Orange Walk as well as seventeen Magistrate’s Courts in Belize City, San Pedro, Dangriga and Orange Walk as well as in the remaining five judicial districts in Belize outfitted with audio recording systems. Magistrates will now be relieved of the task of taking verbatim notes and they will be able to focus on the adjudication function. Also, appeals can be processed more speedily and all of this represents the generous initiative of INL through its office at the US Embassy.”


Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno, US Ambassador to Belize

“This is really a big step forward in assisting the Magistrates to help create and to preserve a record of proceedings, and an accurate record of proceedings is really essential for purposes of appeal in cases of dispute about what was said and what the basis of the Magistrate’s ruling was. It can serve many purposes so that when an Appellate Court is reviewing what happened below we will have an accurate recording of the proceedings. My understanding is that previous to the equipment being installed the courts had to rely on the hand-written notes and the recollection of the magistrate’s themselves. So this is a step far, far, far improving the quality of that record that is going to be reviewed on appeal. It also provides for more efficient proceedings. If there is a dispute in what was said and what happened in the trial court then the recording of everything that goes on in the courtroom will be here digitally preserved forever.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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