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A Petri dish of Sexual Assault Culture?

Documents have shown that in 2020 when an investigation was launched, it was revealed that Private Micha Miguel complained that she was a victim of sexual assault. Reports suggest that there have been additional cases since then in the Belize Defence Force. The question was put squarely to the BDF Commander, Brigadier General Azariel Loria: what is being done to change the culture? Here’s how he responded. 

Brig. Gen. Azariel Loria, Commander, Belize Defence Force: “We have been getting reports of sexual allegations. The investigation for this particular one is ongoing. I’s ongoing and f there are reports that indeed sexual assaults happen we’ll get to know because we have the Women’s Commission onboard and we will do something about it. I am concerned, yes, we have done, I think wo years ago we had allegations of rape. I think that one or two cases are still with the police. The police are investigating it and still they have not managed to reach a conclusion into that. We are still awaiting. We devised our protocols, our stand operating procedures on how we’re going to address it but the BDF stance is zero tolerance when it comes to it and it’s on the individual if he or she wants to get assistance internally or externally. We are open to anything that the victim may want to or may choose to do.”

Brigadier General Loria also reiterated that the culture of violations going unpunished will change, particularly against those who’ve been found responsible. 

Brig. Gen. Azariel Loria, Commander, Belize Defence Force: “if anybody’s culpable during or at the conclusion of the investigation, a police matter, if they investigate it externally, definitely take it to the court and the judges will decide on the fate of the individual. In the Belize Defence Force, depending on the case, if the soldier is found guilty we have various sorts of punishments. It could be from summary disposal, summary trials to court martials and again if a court martial is formed up then the judge will decide what the conviction or the punishment will be.”