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Gang Members Locked Up in SOE Released

Some sixty persons were released from the Belize Central Prison on Friday after the State of Emergency expired. The SoE was a measure taken to curb the gun violence particularly on the south side of Belize City. Those persons taken into custody were engaged in several mediation sessions at the prison and are now back on the city streets. The question now is whether the incarceration proved beneficial. While only time will tell what good the preventative detention; for now we asked Police Commissioner Chester Williams for his take.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I know that during the time that they were incarcerated the Ministry of Human Development via the Conflict Mediation and Modification Center under the stewardship of Abdul Nunez and the leadership intervention team headed by Mr.Rosado and Mr.Dawson and other groups did visit the prison on numerous occasions and dialogued with these young men. May I say the Minister of Home Affairs also went twice and spoke with them. From what I gather the feedback from the discussions had was favorable and I discussed with Mr.Dawson yesterday, and this is William Dawson who happened to be employed at Kolby as well, and he told me that they are in the process of trying to work out a truce. I am optimistic that it is going to work out. I am still hoping that absent PIV and Backaland because the truth is many persons from those two factions were not a part of the state of emergency so that could to some extent be seen as not breaking whatever inroads may have been made at the prison because they were not a part of it. So the group will continue to focus on those persons who are incarcerated with a view to see how we can arrive at some amicable grounds to try and diffuse the level of tension that exists between those factions in Belize City.”

Police Commissioner Williams went on to say that perhaps the most challenging undertaking is to try and get the criminal elements to heal from past grievances.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: I know that it is not easy considering that fact that some of the wounds of these young men goes deep and the hate and anger that they may have toward each other may be at an extremely high level. Perhaps the time spent incarcerated was used to try and mend some of the hurt and to remove some of the anger and once that is done it can facilitate a truce between the groups. But we look at last night and we had two separate shootings last night in Belize City. In the first instances two persons were shot, one of whom succumbed to his injury this morning and that person happened to be a seventeen year old, a minor and the other shooting near the tire shop where another person was shot in the face it does not look good and we know that when there is rivalries between the PIV and the Backaland groups that they can be extremely challenging due to the close proximity within which these groups live and the fact that they can easily access each other’s area through various routes so it makes it challenging for the police. Nonetheless we are in operation mode within the martins area and we will do what needs to be done. I would just hope that the public will understand that we must do certain things to restore some sense of normalcy within the Martins area. We cannot and will not allow these two groups to go at each other because that will put the lives of the ordinary persons, who are not involved in gangs, at risk.”

As the Commissioner noted there were several incidents of gun violence over the weekend which we will share with you later in this newscast.