The State of Emergency was placed in effect on April 1, 2020. Since then three hundred and ninety-eight persons have been arrested for breaching its regulations. The reasons were for being unable to provide reasons for movement outside the curfew period, breaching the curfew, failure to practice social distancing, failure to keep establishment closed during curfew hours and failure to comply with restrictions of movement outside of curfew. Today, some of these persons were assembled in front of the court pending charges. Love News was able to speak to a construction worker who was arrested on his way home from work.
Malik Green, Charged for Breaching Curfew Regulations: “I am a construction worker, I work at Cinderella Plaza at the big building that is being built. I got arrested and charged – I got detained on Saturday ten o’clock exact a.m understand ? I am a construction worker I don’t give trouble and I don’t mess with anybody I try to work for mine. I work two days a week for $40 and police will charge me for curfew. Curfew my brother. $5,000 I have to pay now to the government where I will pay $5,000 for? No reason, they’re abstract us big time. This is big 10:00 a.m in the morning you understand ?”
Reporter: So you’re saying that the police has no reason to accuse you for breaking this curfew.
Malik Green, Charged for Breaching Curfew Regulations: “No because I gave him my reason why I was out but then like he had something against me . They just told me I would get charged because I didn’t have a rightful reason but I told the man how will I not have a rightful reason when I’m coming from work. He said “Well you’re not supposed to be out, it’s to jail I will send you.” It’s a real abstract.”
Love News also spoke with the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, on his thoughts about why the numbers of arrests are so high where the curfew is concerned. He stated that it is simply a matter of citizens not wanting to abide by the law.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Belizeans some of us are just downright heard erased and when it is that the police needs to deal with them then they have all kinds of excuses to say but the police has a responsibility. We have a significant role to play in the fight against this deadly virus and my thing to my officers is that we must be as aggressive as possible to ensure that we enforce the law with a view to minimize or to stop the spread of this deadly virus. If it is that we don’t take it seriously then we’re gonna find ourselves in a position where we don’t want to be and so I see the police as the bulwark in terms of ensuring that there is no further or minimizing the spread of the virus. If it is that we could get that person who violate to go to prison automatic or we find some other alternative location to put them and once I think the first ten go the rest are going to fall in line but sometimes we have to understand that enormity of what we’re dealing with and take drastic measures to address drastic issues and then that is the only thing that people listen to. Look at what happens in India or in some other parts of the world when people violate the punishment is severe but we expect to achieve what we want to achieve while pampering people – it cannot work.”
According to the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams majority of the persons charged were from Belize City.