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Manifesto calls for suspension of gun license for domestic abuse offenders

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Tonight we take another look at the “Manifesto for Linda”, which was first presented by Attorney and Women’s rights advocate Lisa Shoman. The manifesto seeks to bring about significant changes in Belize on the subject of domestic violence. Tonight we look at another of the point outlined in the manifesto which reads, quote, “we want the law to refuse and/or suspend gun licenses for domestic abuse offenders, sexual offense violators and all accused until they are lawfully acquitted and not just ‘nolle prosequied’,” end of quote. 

Lisa Shoman – Attorney/Women’s rights advocate

“Once there is a complaint of domestic violence – and I am saying complaint – the first thing the police should do is look to see whether the person being complained against has a gun and at least for the time being suspend that gun license and require the person to turn in the gun. I am reliably informed, and I will put it no higher than that, that Mr.Emmanuel was a gun owner, that he had been in to the police station before but that he was allowed to leave with his gun, and if that is true it makes the death of Mrs. Emmanuel even more tragic than it already is. Because it means that it could have been stopped if there had been a law in place to take away his gun license with a complaint and I am going to add to that – the state should take place of the virtual complainant so that means that even if the wife or the partner doesn’t want to press charges the state can’t force you to press charges but the state can move ahead with the complaint.”

Reporter:

“To your knowledge are there instances where the state does take the form of virtual complainant?”

Lisa Shoman – Attorney/Women’s rights advocate

“It does when children are involved and it should do so when adults are involved too. In other words a parent can’t say ‘I don’t want to take this complaint involving my child with rape.’ rape is a crime against the state and it isn’t a crime that the parents get to decide whether it’s dealt with or not. Now I’m telling you what the law is and what happens very often is completely another thing. It is outrageous and that is why I want the police and the DPP to institute domestic violence and sexual violence units to be dedicated to deal with this issue both at the police level for investigation to be able to charge, to be able to arrest and process, to be able to prosecute and the same with the DPP in terms of the prosecution of these matters – should be dedicated, resourced, staffed. Our women and girls deserve no less.”

Shoman adds that there is also a need for stricter laws that govern the issuance of gun licenses.

Lisa Shoman – Attorney/Women’s rights advocate

“Yes there should be a background check and if you are a domestic violence offender or a registered sex offender you shouldn’t be able to get a gun. If you have mental health issues that have led you to a criminal offence, I am going to be very clear I’m not saying if you have mental health issues you shouldn’t get a gun no. If you have mental health issues that have led you to a criminal offence and you have been charged and arrested you shouldn’t get a gun. Until you can prove that you are free and clear of that charge and that there are no problems you shouldn’t get a gun. I think of the situation in Santa Elena where the hairdresser and her friend were killed by this security guard who had a gun – he shouldn’t have been working in a security company and he shouldn’t have been permitted a gun license because he had been threatening her before. He shouldn’t have been allowed to leave his business premises without turning back that gun because he was off duty and somebody should have gone to find him and get back that gun from him; maybe today we’d have two women alive in Santa Elena.”

We will continue to look at the other points outlined in the Manifesto in the days ahead. According to Shoman, she is now already working on the second draft of the manifesto with the assistance of various professionals and other women who have committed to join the effort.

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