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Sep 29, 2021

Enforcing Penalties for Gang Membership and Mandatory Stay-in- School Policies

Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa appeared on Open Your Eyes today where he spoke about the need to enforce the law on gang membership. Although a gang leader could get twenty years in jail under the law, this never happens and members who plead guilty generally just get a fine. Musa says the law is an effective piece of legislation that needs enforcement at the magistrate level and Belizean young people must also be made to stay in school and off the streets. 


Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs


“The police intelligence is excellent when it comes to gathering information on gang members. They have to build a case file on these individuals, you know. So they go through all of the ground work to actually build up to prove that these individuals are members of gang, from photographs of them hanging out, from videos of them with guns, from tattoos that they may have. It’s a lot that goes into building a case against them. So you know what that is like, having to build that case only when it reaches the Magistrate’s Court that they are fined and they are released. We need to look at the law. The law is there, so there is no need for us to say “We need to change the law!” There is no need for that, the law is there. But, when it comes to the other cases, this very crazy murder, we have to put police, greater police presence in these areas. That is being done right now, operationally. We, like we said on our show, we are severely on demand in the police department. So far, fifty police officers, just for 2021, have gone home whether because they were corrupt, or rogue cops they have gone home, or they may have passed away. But we are losing our police officers. And so, the two hundred and twenty-five recruits that are coming out is very timely and much needed because then we can put more officers in these gang prone areas. And that, you will see more of that in Belize City. If we can mandate wearing masks, we can mandate something that is good for our children, and that is keeping them in school. And so, them not showing up to school when school starts, again, this is another huge disadvantage that COVID has brought on us, like you regularly said, so many have dropped out since COVID. But once we get back to the classroom, you must be mandated. Every single mother and father and grandparent must ensure that their child is going to school. And if not, that fall on you as the parent. And so, making it mandatory is absolutely essential in this very critical time. Not everybody is built to go to school, we understand that.  You are more equipped to do technical, and that’s why we have to offer that as well. But, in the absence of those two things, and none of those things are working for you, then we have to consider, perhaps, making it mandatory, if you don’t fall under those two categories of academics or vocational, then perhaps the military. But you cannot be hanging out on you street corner everyday and every night and scheming and plotting and we’re going to do to somebody today. That is not going to be allowed.  And so, that is where we need to go, again, long term.”

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