An amendment to the Defence Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives today. This bill is to update the provisions of bringing the Defence Act into conformity with the Belize Constitution and other laws. The Area Representative for Caribbean Shores, Kareem Musa, stood up to question the allowances as it relates to the police department to investigate other aspects of the military, including their own, when act of abuse and sexual assault is reported.
Hon. Kareem Musa, Area Representative, Caribbean Shores: “In actuality and in reality abuse exists in our military and in our police department and we’re talking of a sexual nature and so while it was that the intent was to include matters like rape and sexual assault as matters like disgraceful conduct I think we would have run afoul of the Criminal Code Madam Speaker because the Criminal Code has a penalty of up to life for rape and so my main position and proposition within the committee was that we need to have more enforcement. The police department needs to be able to go into the military if there’s an accusation against a particular officer of rape or sexual assault and investigate. It cannot be that the Defence and the military is immune to this type of investigation and so we in this honorable house have to send the strongest of messages Madam Speaker, the strongest of signals that it will not be tolerated any longer. We need to stand up with our women in the military, we need to stand up with our women in the police department and while it is primarily our women it’s not exclusively there are instances of abuse against males and so Madam Speaker the signal nonetheless needs to be sent today from this honorable house that we will be cracking down and we will be allowing the police department to do their job and the DPP to do their job against those offenders within the military and the police.”
Party Leader aspirant, Patrick Faber, rose in the House to clarify the bill to answer Musa’s concerns.