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Governor General to soon declare “public emergency areas” in Belize City

The Ministry of National Security and the Office of the Attorney General have finalized regulations that seek to demarcate specific areas of Belize City as a measure to address crime. This measure was first announced by the Prime Minister Dean Barrow on March 18 and yesterday Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte confirmed that these regulations have been sent to the Governor General for him to officially declare these areas as “public emergency areas” under section eighteen of the Constitution of Belize. While he did not delve into specifics, Peyrefitte says that law enforcement officers will now have the authority to detain persons for more than forty eight hours as a crime preventative measure.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General: “You have to remember you know even with the new things signed by the Governor General, the proclamation, it is illegal to be a part of a gang you know. So when you have these gang funerals and these gang procession that is not a legal thing, that is illegal to begin with so yes people will be detained for being members of gangs, people will be detained for professing their membership to gangs but in addition to that you don’t have to be a gang member to be detained by the police for an indefinite period of time once these new regulations are put into place if it is believed that that is necessary to maintain the peace. It is a desperate measure in terms of the law but we are living in desperate times where the people want answers. The people want this craziness to stop and so we had to have brought this out, we had to urge upon the Governor General the importance of it and it is his decision now whether or not to give the order for us to do it but there will be regulations, it will be tough, it will be aggressive but we will have to do what we have to do to stem the uncontrollable crime that we have now in Belize City. We have to trust that the police, who are also Belizeans and who also love Belize will understand that not because they will be given extra powers means that they are to abuse those powers. If you’re a criminal you will be dealt with, if you are not a criminal you have nothing to worry about it’s that simple. But if you are a criminal and you are insisting in engaging in criminal behavior then the police will have the powers necessary to deal with you as a criminal. You should be ‘hello I am a major criminal.’ but yet you cry. I mean come on if you don’t want the police to be aggressive and in your face and to be dealing with you then you have to make sure that you stop your criminal behavior.”  

The Ministry of National Security will embark on a nationwide consultation with stakeholders to discuss, and share ideas and possible strategies to address the crime situation in Belize.