About a month prior to the tragic helicopter crash the Belize Defence Force was in the news when recruits were alleging that senior officers were abusing their powers and that they were guilty of sexual misconduct. The story developed further for weeks as past BDF personnel spoke out on their own experiences and an internal investigation was launched into the allegations. Love News later learnt that as many as fifty reports of misconduct were made to the investigative team. CEO Felix Enriquez explained to Love News that the investigation has concluded and action has been taken.
Felix Enriquez, CEO in the Ministry of National Security: ““As you are aware there was a team appointed to investigate that thoroughly and that report has come forward already. There were some charges laid on some of the instructors as the commander said in his interview it was handled internally but not because that was something that was insisted on it was because what was investigated and what was found out or what the recruits were willing to say to the investigators did not lead to anything criminal and so that is why there hasn’t been any criminal charges but there was misconduct and those people have been dealt with.”
Reporter: But dealt with, nobody has been taken off the force perhaps just some internal discipline ?
Felix Enriquez, CEO in the Ministry of National Security: “Yes as far as I know yes there was just internal discipline and it’s not because we don’t suspect that maybe someone should have lost their job but because of what was reported by the recruits and they were thoroughly every recruit was interrogated or was questioned, all the instructors as well and even persons outside of the training company and the battalion that supports the training company and you can say somebody’s guilty but if you cannot prove it then that’s something else. But no stones were left unturned there in terms of how the investigation took place and how the questioning took place. It’s the sort of thing that we hope to address as well as part of making the Defence Act stiffer so that even if persons don’t come forward things like what we consider to be disgraceful conduct, the language now says “commits and offence” so that you will be held liable if we think you are found guilty of committing the offence even if somebody doesn’t come forward and say “This person did so and so.” If we could show that you indeed did that act then you commit the offence and you will be held accountable for it.”
Enriquez added that the recent Women, Peace and Security Agenda would help in discouraging this type of behavior within Belize’s military.