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Sep 1, 2021

Human Rights Commission To Expand its Reach

Cynthia Pitts

The Human Rights Commission of Belize held an extraordinary General Meeting virtually and filled several vacancies on its Board.  Appointed as the new Secretary is attorney Kay King of Belmopan, while the new Treasurer is Candice Garbutt of San Pedro and Trustee is attorney Brandon Usher of Belize City. Today, Vice President of the Commission, Cynthia Pitts told News Five the Commission is working to improve training, attract more volunteers, and expand its reach across the country so they can assist those making complaints of human rights abuses.

 

Voice of: Cynthia Pitts, V.P., Human Rights Com. of Belize

“It is all well and good to speak out but at the end of the day, many of these incidents need to be taken to court then, who is there to take it to court? I am a retired attorney. And the President is the only one, and so we would really need attorneys to be with us. And we need volunteers.  Now that we are being assisted by one of the UN agencies, to really do what can be viewed as a rebranding, we will be able to employ persons, and we have already done so where the focus will be on the Police and their actions – the violations of rights. I think that is going to be the focus now that we have persons working with us. And what we want to do I to set up branches or cells over the whole country where persons will be able to easily go to a focal point person of that branch or cell and make a complaint and that will be directed to the head office and we will be better able to assist them.  UNICEF has agreed to assist us in strengthening ourselves and this is in connection too with the Spotlight project, because the elimination of violence against women, girls, minorities, everybody, that is a human rights matter. So the Human Rights Commission is very well poised to deal with human rights, which also include these types of violations. So that is why they have approached us, that if we are able to set up branches and cells over the country then we would not only be receiving complaints by the Police but by other persons as well and every other complaint.”

 

Marion Ali

“And how would you be able to assist these people who are on the receiving end of the abuse?”

 

Voice of: Cynthia Pitts

“Well at the moment we can’t, but the whole idea is to strengthen yourself so that you can – that you will have an attorney who is working along with the Commission, maybe employed by the Commission.”

 

Marion Ali

“To do what?”

 

Voice of: Cynthia Pitts

“To represent persons; to go the whole nine yards noh? Because at the moment we are able to give advice. We can do that, but as to going into court, that is not possible, unless we would get someone who will say, well, I will take on that case. But it isn’t an automatic thing that you come and we will have an attorney. But the whole idea is to be able to have an attorney on staff.”

 

Pitts says that the members who were appointed to serve during the Commission’s virtual meeting will do so for one year. Training will be conducted for them as well as for the members. 


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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