Belize Shifts Gun License Issuance to New Gun Control Board
The Government of Belize has officially made it law for the issuance of gun licenses to be handled by a Gun Control board as opposed to being the sole responsibility of the police commissioner. Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa says that after being passed in the Senate last week, the Governor General, Dame Froyla Tzalam, has since signed the amendment to the Firearms Act into law. With the formalities out of the way, the focus now is the set up the board. Until that is done, there is a moratorium on the issuance of new gun licenses.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “To get the service, of course, we have to start off by getting the board the composition of the board together, the selection process. As you know it will have on the board a magistrate, a current sitting magistrate, a CEO, and as well a member of the police department from the dangerous goods section and so that is the process. I suspect that the composition should take somewhere between three weeks to a month.”
Reporter: Are there considerations for the candidates to fill these posts already?
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “We haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I’m certain we will be looking at the best qualified individuals to hold these positions. The Auditor General’s Ministry, the department, the Auditor General’s Department is tasked to do audits and so I’m certain they have a huge backlog themselves, but I’m certain that is something that they will be engaging in moving forward, but we cannot force the Auditor General’s office to do a particular audit, we have to wait for them to come and do it.”
The circumstances leading to the formation of a gun control authority stem from allegations of corruption in the issuance of gun licenses. Leader of the Opposition, Moses Shyne Barrow, has laid the blame at the feet of the Police Commissioner for such a board to be established.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “They had to go to the House of Representatives and create legislation now to try to fight against that corruption where the Commissioner of Police was signing fraudulent recommendations that he claimed he didn’t know but people close to him brought it to him and that police officer has still not been held accountable. So how do you stop corruption when someone that gave the Commissioner of Police a fraudulent vetting document has not been held accountable ? There is no accountability in the police department. “
Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Because you can’t have them investigating themselves.
Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “Well, this is what I’m saying. So you need to create a body that will investigate corruption in the police department, that will have oversight. It happens all across the world in developed nations. You need to create an oversight. Professional branch and these other entities internally fine, let’s find a way to strengthen them but let’s also find a way to have oversight to ensure there’s accountability. What is the excuse again for that gentleman, the officer that gave the Commissioner of Police a fraudulent vetting document? What is the excuse for that gentleman not being held accountable?”
The gun control board will be made up of a magistrate, the CEO for the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the head of dangerous goods from the police department.