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Home Affairs minister to revamp the role and name of the GSU

What was once the Ministry of National Security is now being reverted back to the Ministry of Home Affairs which is responsible for the Police Department and the Ministry of National Defence and Border Security will have responsibility for the military and the Belize Coast Guard.  Minister Kareem Musa now has the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries.  This morning he spoke on his portfolio and how he intends to carry out his mandate.

Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries:I’m very appreciative to have been appointed by the Prime Minister the Honorable John Briceno to be the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of New Growth industries. The second is a very bold initiative on the part of the Prime Minister. As you know growth industries are any type of industries where you have a boom, there’s expansion and development in a particular industry. In years gone by it has been fish farming and shrimp farming and that type of industry that is new to Belize and so I look forward to the challenge. As you know throughout the world the first world countries have been taking advantage of the hemp industry and so that is one of those new growth industries that we look to explore the possibilities and certainly to create the proper structure and legislation in place to govern this type of industry. I know that the past administration under Mr.Barrow had issued some hemp licenses I think they did so very secretively if you ask me because nobody can say for sure who has a hemp license in this country but an industry like that we have to be more transparent, above board. It needs constant oversight, constant monitoring and I am happy that it has been appropriately paired with the Ministry of Home Affairs so that we can have that policing over that type of industry as we move forward.”

As it relates to the promise to dismantle the Gang Suppression Unit GSU, Musa says it may be a fine tuning of the group and a revision of its mandate.

Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries“As you know in the last administration the country on a whole had a difficulty with the Gang Suppression Unit, the concept is not a bad one in the sense of gathering intelligence of where the guns are being stashed and the drugs are being hidden it’s not a bad concept but where we found that there is an issue is there is an abuse of authority, the use of excessive force against the citizens of our country. We’re talking grandmothers, grandfathers beaten up, doors broken into and so what it is is that we intend to rebrand this type of unit so that it certainly does have that intelligence gathering but at the same time it has a different approach to policing. It cannot be that simply because you know drugs are being stashed in a particular location you go in and abuse everybody in that household and so it is all about going back to community policing that is very important. An important part of our Plan Belize is going back to community policing, engaging the residents in a meaningful way with neighborhood watch groups and that sort of thing and so it is all about changing the approach and how we treat the Belizean people. While at the same time very important for the police department is police reform. We do know that that there are instances of corruption even within the police department ,we have to come down very hard on those officers but at the same time create incentives for officers so that they can have a respectable dignified job. Whether it is that we come up with a plan to distribute land to police officers, whether it is we further their education, certainly sixth form, UB, Galen, definitely advancing their education that is something that we want to do create incentives for police officers and to create a sense of pride in the job that they’re doing so as to boos the overall morale within the department. There’s the issue of promotion we saw where ministers had the authority, had the discretion to elevate certain officers even though they failed exams and that is wrong and so it should be exclusively based on merits. If you pas your exam and you have an outstanding record as a police officer in your capacity then most definitely you need to be promoted but we cannot have ministerial discretion being abused and ministers calling the shots as to who will get promoted and who will not.”