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Dec 9, 2019

Belize Celebrates Three Years of UNCAC

Belize celebrates its third year having signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC.  Since 2016, when government was brought to its knees during an eleven-day strike effected by the Belize National Teachers Union, there hasn’t been much in terms of progress. There still isn’t a functional Integrity Commission, neither is there a Contractor General in office, just a few of the achievements that can be made with a little political will. Today, the Belize Peace Movement came out to the Battlefield Park where they protested to raise public awareness on the matter.

 

Robert Lopez, Belize Peace Movement

Robert Lopez

“The Belize Peace Movement stands for Patriots Engaged Against Corruption and Exploitation and so we have been at this for years.  We have proof where ten years ago we’ve been championing the cause against corruption, raising awareness, calling out the powers that be that we cannot continue down this road.  We know that in the early nineties, CARICOM launched the Integrity Commission initiative and in 1994 we enacted the prevention of corruption in public life act.  That’s twenty-five years ago, yet the statistics show that less than ten percent of our elected persons and there’s a hundred and ten persons from the city councils, the senate and the House of Representatives who should be abiding by this law, it’s a law, it comes with fine and confinement.  Nothing happens.  Later in 2001, 2002, we signed onto the OAS’ Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.  Laughed at, they haven’t even kept it.  We kept hammering at them until we got them to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2016.  Well three years later, they have not implemented it and they know why they are dragging their feet because a few of them would be going to jail.  That’s what happens in other jurisdictions where they take this very seriously, especially the component that calls for an autonomous body to deal with investigations and prosecutions.  In countries where that takes place, just like in Guatemala across the border, even the presidents get put in jail because of corruption and most of it is related to campaign financing, taking campaign financing, taking bribes is against the law.”

 

The N.T.U.C.B. has also made a statement to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day. You will recall that the unions stated protests to pressure the government to sign off on the anti corruption conventions. The N.T.U.C.B. calls on Government to demonstrate its commitment and seriousness about effectively combating corruption. The union states that at its Annual General Meeting hosted in Caye Caulker over the weekend, delegates of the ten member Unions approved a resolution to re-establish meetings of the UNCAC Steering Committee and for government to proceed expeditiously with the review and passage of anti-corruption legislation and the establishment of anti-corruption practices and agencies in Belize.


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