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Sep 6, 2018

George Street Residents Not Happy with State of Emergency

In the George Street area, the new realities under the state of public emergency is also causing havoc. Residents say they are left exposed to the brute force used by the police to round up suspects. Grieving families, as well as others who claim no gang affiliation have been caught in the police dragnet. More than a hundred are in lock down and their fundamental rights suspended.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s been less than two days; about thirty-nine hours to be exact, since over a hundred persons, adults and minors, primarily known gang affiliates, but innocent residents as well—from the George Street area and the Banak/Mayflower Street area have been in lockdown at the Raccoon and Queen Streets Police stations. As early as two-thirty on Wednesday morning, the police department executed a sweep in these two hotspots in the Old Capital following a declaration of a state of public emergency on south side Belize City. Residents of George Street allege that while they were sleeping, the officers, who were dressed in camouflage attire and masks over their faces, simply knocked down their front doors and took their husbands and sons into custody without a warrant or reasoning for their detention.


Voice of: Jennel Williams, George Street Resident

“Mask man come like four o’clock and when dehn come, dehn come ina wah real aggressive way, stomp yo door and all kinda thing. I have my in-laws dehn  weh dehn bruk things ina dehn place. Dehn mi di look fi ker wah sixteen-year-old weh deh ina fourth form and ih ma had to tell dehn that unu can’t ker this young bwai. I wah ask Mister Chester Williams weh ih wah do with the minors from George Street cause I hear dehn want remand them for a month. Wahn month fi what? What crime dehn do? Mister Chester need fi pick up the slack and know that he need fi charge who ih want charge; he know good who he want, so why noh deal with the one weh you have.”


In effect, the law gives the police the power to incarcerate gang members and their affiliates from these two areas for thirty days, without charging them for any crime. It was instituted in the wake of the recently homicides motivated by the gang war between the two groups.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Acting ComPol [File: September 5th, 2018]

“In the first instance, we intend to incarcerate these individuals for one month. If at the expiration of that one-month period, they have shown no signs of improvement or that they want to behave themselves, then we intend to take it further.”


John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security [File: September 5th, 2018]

“Under the emergency powers granted under the constitution, if we should wish to have an extension of this thirty-day period we will have to take the matter to the House of Representative and I, as the minister, do intend to do so if the circumstances do so warrant.”


Shakedi Baizar

The murders were triggered by the execution of Shakedi Baizar last Friday near the Matron Roberts Polyclinic. His funeral is scheduled for Friday, but his relatives, particularly his brothers who are reputed George Street figures were detained during the sweep. It is a trying time for Jenny Baizar, who says that her family cannot properly mourn the death of her younger son because they are occupied with the unfair detention of her older sons.


Jenny Baizar

Jenny Baizar, Mother of Shakedi Baizar

“I’m in mourning after they gunned down my son and then now two of my son are locked down that they noh have no time fi prepare to bury their brother. I am really upset and words can’t explain how I feel right now knowing that I’m in mourning and my two sons is on lock down. I don’t know what else to say, I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to do.  I know I wah can’t see them, but I noh even want go over deh because I wah bruk down if I go over there too go see dehn. So I really hurt, I really hurt fi know that dehn deh lock down and dehn no have time fi help me deal with the funeral.”


Feeling betrayed by the community policing and mediation system, spearheaded by Acting Commissioner of Police Chester Williams himself, the residents say they remain at a loss. Today, the wives and mothers of the detainees are left to take care of their homes, as the breadwinners are locked down for a month, in the first instance.  But does the law, which is seen as a case of preventative detention, infringe on the human rights of those caught in the discriminatory net.


Kevin Arthurs

Kevin Arthurs, Vice President, Human Rights Commission

“The provision that has been invoked does allow for a number of the rights that fall in the bill of rights to be suspended. Under section eighteen-ten, you actually suspend the right to a fair trial, you no longer have that right if the regulations go to the contrary; you no longer have the right to being detained with a warrant; you no longer have the right to be discriminated against.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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