Belize is listed as one of the top five countries with the highest murder rate. The spike in the escalating crime has placed fear in the people and the authorities saw a need to address the problem. As a result, the Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, declared a state of emergency in two gang neighborhoods on the Southside of Belize City. It granted special powers to the security forces to function without being challenged. The police were able to detain approximately one hundred persons as a result. The state of emergency received a backlash from several organizations including the Bar Association and the Belize Human Rights Commission since they believe constitutional rights were being violated. Today, Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber told the media despite the complaints, he feels that it is a positive move by the Government of Belize.
Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber: “We have heard the outcries of the citizenry especially here in Belize City where as you know I am a Belize City representative and there have been many suggestions in line of that. In fact you know that some time ago there were measures that Prime Minister Barrow tried to put in having to do with preventative detention and we heard people loud and clear. It was a different climate, it was different time. I think the rate of murders have since then gone up tremendously and there were many people who said you know we need that kind of measure all though it’s not the same thing and to tell you the facts, the truth is that the measures that have been put in place to declare those zones in an emergency state did not come just while I was acting Prime Minister. You will remember in March when we had another terrible state of murders that that decision was announced. All that happened; the government was full of restraint and in fact did not move to declare the particular zones and after a little while when things calm down we thought that we would just hold off a until things cleared up and we saw the absolute need to do it and last weekend was in fact that opportunity here we thought that it was absolutely necessary.”
Some of the detainees have been released while forty were sent to central prison.