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Mar 12, 2014

Ombudsman issues report on 1st year in office

Lionel Arzu

The ombudsman, Lionel Arzu, has issued a report on his first year in office. It contains a wide range of public matters from police brutality to inmate treatment and housing conditions at the Belize Central Prison. His office has also been occupied investigating a number of unlawful land transactions at the Ministry of Natural Resources. The first comprehensive report of the Office of the Ombudsman covers the period January first to December thirty-first, 2013.  There were a total of two hundred and eleven grievances lodged with the office last year but only one-third of these cases were completed…the remainder still awaits response from the respective public authorities.  Not surprisingly, complaints of impropriety involving law enforcement officers abusing their authority rank highest on the list of matters investigated.  At the time the report was being compiled, however, only ten percent of those cases had been addressed by the Belize Police Department.  The second largest number of complaints is coming out of the Belize Central Prison, managed by the Kolbe Foundation.  The report also contains recommendations including the appointment of visiting justices to be made by the Minister of National Security or that the Chief Magistrate conducts random inspection at the prison to protect the constitutional rights of prisoners.  In concluding his report, Arzu says that his office has been able to discharge its mandate with measured success despite its limited resources.

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