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Crime Control as a result of State of Emergency declared on Belize City’s Southside

So as it stands, there were two shooting incidents near the Magazine Road area last week. The catalyst for where we are today was last week Friday’s murder of Shadiki Baizar near the Matron Roberts clinic. That sparked a series of retaliation incidents between the George Street and Banak Street gangs. There are a hundred individuals that have been swept up by the police department since the State of Emergency was evoked. Both Minister of National Security and the Acting Commissioner addressed what happened and how the recently amended Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act would deal with the situation once the thirty day period had passed. But first, though he’s not clairvoyant, the Acting Commissioner explains how he knows who is responsible for most of the shooting incidents across the city.

Chester Williams Acting Commissioner of Police: “Every gunshot that fires in Belize City I know who do it. yes.

Reporter: “That is virtual ambition sir.”

Chester Williams Acting Commissioner of Police: “Yeah but knowing and getting the evidence to be able to prosecute is two different things right. We know who fire the gunshots in Belize City because we have street sources who tell us what is happening but in most instances you know that they would not come forward in giving statements so in terms of making arrests that is where the difficulty comes in so we are sure that it was members of that same group who actually went out and executed one of those murders.

Honorable John Saldivar Minister of National Security: “You will recall that in March when I was appointed as the Minister responsible for Police: one of the announcements that was made was in fact the intent to impose this public emergency in certain areas on the Southside of Belize City so that approval was given from them. It was the decision of the Ministry of National Security to put it in abeyance and keep it unimplemented until we thought that the time warranted. We now are at the juncture and so in consultation with the acting Prime Minister we decided that this was the time to levy it and to impose this state of emergency in these two specific areas with the amendment that was tabled in the house on Friday that will add restrictions to the ability of Magistrates and the court to give bail. We believe that we will then be in a position to further incarcerate these gang leaders who insist on creating havoc in our society using the gang legislation. I must also point out that under the emergency powers granted under the constitution if we should wish to have an extension of this thirty day period we would have to take the matter to the house of representatives and I as Minster do intend to do so if the circumstances do so warrant.”

Chester Williams Acting Commissioner of Police: “The ordinary law abiding citizens in these areas can be assured that whatever rights they have enjoyed yesterday that today they can continue to enjoy those rights. We know who our players are and those are the persons we are going after. We have right now just over 100 persons but I am sure that after we have gone through the list that number will reduce to about 75. They will be kept hopefully at her Majesty’s Prison which is Colby. Constitution Act section 18 subsection 10 makes provision where they are entitled to certain due process in the sense that they can be allowed access to an attorney and an attorney can make application on their behalf before a court in terms of asking the court to look at their detention and it will be a matter for us to be able to justify why we have them detained to the court and that is what we intend to do. In the normal course of the constitution you have 24 hours. In this case under the declaration law it says 7 days in the first instance to inform them as to why they are detained.”