The Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRCB) has also weighed in on the issue of the state of emergency. Attorney Kevin Arthurs of the HRCB told Love News via phone that he wanted to assure the public that the commission is on the side of law abiding citizens and support any initiatives that allow for criminals to be brought to justice.
Kevin Arthurs Attorney, Human Rights: “Is the method used; the method showed then is a statutory instrument so it is a postural instrument which has the effect of suspending certain rights that are guaranteed by the Bill of rights and our position is that there are alternatives to this option which include using the provisions under the Crime control and Command justice Act and if you will recall recently there were amendments that were made to deal specifically with gang activity. We have listened to the press conference by the Law enforcement authorities and we are that much more confident that the same results could have been gotten without sacrificing the damage to the Bill of rights for each Belizean. The narrative coming out of the press conference was that the Police were assured that they knew who their specific targets were and so these specific targets did not in our view justify going to the constitution to declare areas. We have heard in voicing this concern that it was something shared by the decision makers but they were saying that the Crime control council was not in operation. In response to that our position has been that this has been in contemplation from March of this year which would have provided more than sufficient time to reconstitute that body and even in the circumstances we see that there is no immediate threat which would prevent the authorities from constituting that body and invoking provisions under section 12 and 4 I believe of the Act so our position in relation to the proclamation is first to examine its legal foundation to see whether or not it has crossed the constitutional threshold and secondly to monitor its implications to see how it is being done. There is a road map for this and Belizeans can rest assured that we can know what will possibly happen because Jamaica is going through the same scenario.”
According to Arthurs, a similar exercise has been very costly to the Government of Jamaica since it had to feed, clothe and house people at the prison.