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Minister Musa Speaks on Initiatives Aimed at Tackling the Root Causes of Crime

And with that alarming news of our young men populating the Belize Central Prison, the Ministry of Home Affairs took stock of its initiatives geared at keeping young persons out of prison whilst rehabilitating those who have served time. Kevin Cadle, the Director of the Youth Services Department, spoke on the specific components of the programme.

Kevin Cadle, Director, Department of Youth Services:One of the most important things that we want to look at is to continue with the educational aspect of developing these young persons. And one of the things that we’re currently doing, Dr Lorna McKay is charged with working directly with the young men within their neighborhoods to create remedial opportunities in math, English, information technology, as well as graphic design. We meet with the Taiwanese embassy next week, our counterpart, to start mapping out the graphic design and information technology component for the young men. In terms of their skills building the center for employment training that were opening up at mile 21 known as the Central Regional Youth Training Institute will be participating in ensuring that electrical, plumbing, and all these different types of programs are given to the young men. As well we’re seriously looking at the medium term for the youth challenge program which will be at Mountain Pine Ridge. What we want to do is to be able to allow for these young men to be able to participate in the Belize Defense Force as well as the firefighters for the fire department whereby they could be trickled into those particular areas and were serious about that. We’re also looking at the importance of counseling and that the University of Belize it’s taking stock through the family assessments that is currently being done to be able to deal with these young men as well and their families because it’s not just the young men that we need to work with it’s also their families so there’s a host of work that is getting ready to take place within their communities and to continue to build on them. I can tell you that the United Nations human rights is getting ready to continue to launch the community committees on violence reduction known as “Heal up with Roots” and that is going to continue to build the capacity of key players within the community to continue to mitigate crime and violence. This is not going to be an easy road but we will continue to build on what we have and ensure that it is not what like what happened last time.”

Additionally, Director Cadle spoke on the participation and support from the media as it relates to reports on crime.

Kevin Cadle, Director, Department of Youth Services:  “The media is an important aspect in all of this and that the media should minimize the sensationalism of crime and violence and portray more the things that are actually taking place that are positive programs that are being done by these young men. Continuing to showcase crime and violence for instance I was appalled to know that when we saw the two young men that were recently killed they were in red. Why couldn’t we get pictures with these young men in different colors? Why does it have to be red? To portray gangs? Why can’t we look at some of the good things that we have done especially in the camp? That camp from my point of view should have been a hallmark to end the year instead it was at the end of the presentation by the newscasts at that point in time I think that needs to stop. The media needs to start portraying the social system that proves justice, that proves positivity it if we want Belize to move forward and that the media should be able to work alongside us to portray the positive things and those positive things should be at the forefront in the newscasts not the murders because in truth if we continue to showcase murders and continue to showcase the heinous crimes committed in our society we’re showing young people how to grow up to want to be murderers. There is a serious situation in our country with the lack of love and attention and alienation as well as grief and loss period why do we want to continue to portray heinous crimes and to show our populace about murders being committed and by gang members? Let’s show the positive things, let’s show the social stuff that are proving to be successful in our country. So while we’re moving forward I definitely would want the media to be more a forefront leader in terms of showing the positivity especially what this government is doing and moving in the right direction.”

According to Minister Kareem Musa, there have been some hiccups along the way but there have been some accomplishments and several more ahead.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “This is one of our regular meetings actually for us to take stock and take inventory of where we are in terms of our road map, our leadership intervention unit initiative which started back in November of 2021 and as you know it’s an all encompassing program that includes education, it includes teaching our young men and women entrepreneurial skills, skills training, conflict management and resolution. We had a very successful first retreat out to Mountain Pine Ridge that we took 50 guys from different neighborhoods just so that they can get this type of counseling, this type of training in terms of the conflict resolution and I have to say it was a great success period of course we had some hiccups that we’re working on to fix in our next retreat which were planning more towards the ending of January and then of course there is the work program that is going to continue but we want to see how we can now diversify the type of work that these young men are doing and so to get them more in line with what their strengths are. So if they have a particular passion to do construction or to do welding to give them that type of training that they’ve never had and definitely to get them on this very successful path come on this positive path because it has in fact been years of neglect and abandonment, no access to resources, no access to opportunities and that is what we’re trying to do with this initiative and like I said so far it has yielded some good dividends. We’re only two months in and I believe we’ve only had one shooting in Belize City, one murder and for two months that is a huge success period of course our heart goes out to the family of the young man who lost his life on New Year’s Eve but we definitely see where this approach is actually yielding dividends and so we want to again meet today to take stock to see what our next steps are going to be.“