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Minister of Home Affairs Says More Surveillance Cameras Are in the Way

The Sitting of the House of Representatives continues at this hour. As is the tradition, there is a segment where members of the opposition are allowed to submit questions for Ministers on any national issue of concern. During this session, Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa was asked for an update on the government’s crime strategy. The question was posed by Mesopotamia’s Area Representative, Moses Shyne Barrow who explained that his query is based on the recent rise in crime.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “I want to thank the member for this question, it’s a very important question at a very critical time and of course it involves the serious crime situation in our country and if anybody should be acutely aware of this issue which has developed over time because of reckless abandon and neglect by the previous administration it would be my friend from Mesopotamia. Madam Speaker in channeling the spirit of Tony Blair we have to be tough on crime but even tougher on the root causes of crime. Crafting a strategy during these challenging times where resources and patience are in limited supply is a task for giants. But what has been inspirational for us at the Ministry of Home Affairs has been the readiness of different stakeholders and partners to put in their pound to join in the fight, to share their experience and to turn things around. We have begun the process. Those in the courts will recognize that we have begun to turn up the heat on gang members fast tracking and prioritizing prosecutions of gang members. Our strategic meeting with officers at the prosecution branch was refreshing. The pressing resolve was clearly welcomed and the good officers are more than ready to execute. For a long time gang members with outstanding fines and warrants skirted the consequences of their failure. We have activated a program specifically to execute commitment warrants against these gang members. We want them off the streets an we want them off now. In this regard we have also assigned senior investigators to follow up and shore up cases involving gang members. The detention and conviction rates will eventually make a life of crime less attractive. This should make the parallel installation of social and rehabilitative programs more attractive. We have every intention of working with those who want to turn their lives around but we also have every intention of targeting , disabling and removing those who wish to terrorize and kill. We realize it will be a bumpy process but enough is enough.”

Minister Musa went on to provide a comparison on the crime rates and strategy to the previous administration. He also announced the imminent acquisition of surveillance cameras through a CABEI program.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “Even when the murder count for this period hit a record high of one hundred and sixteen murders in 2018 the past UDP administration did nothing. That is a 22% drop from the UDP one hundred and sixteen murders for the same period, for us it is twenty six Belizeans alive. Our administration Madam Speaker has since engaged the CABEI offer to make Belizeans safer and our department stronger in the areas of infrastructure, personnel and uploading our vision of utilizing innovation and technology as a key weapon in fighting crime. In that spirit Madam Speaker we can announce that we will be securing from CABEI close to one hundred more CCTV cameras and six more mobile units to increase the eyes and reach of Belizean law enforcement. These new additions should be successfully delivered within the early portion of the new year and for those who may be doubtful as to the efficacy of surveillance cameras I can report that two out of the last five murders were solved with the aid and assistance of the high definition surveillance cameras. Indeed Madam Speaker the last few months have been extremely heavy on all of us with the loss of so many young promising Belizean lives. We feel the evening news items and the viral videos. I feel the mothers who lose sons and the heart wrenching look in their eyes and it pains all of us. When I am hugging those mothers madam speaker finger pointing does not ease the pain but I trust them. I trust their memory, I try to connect with their determination to get justice now and sooner rather than later.”

Complementing the surveillance cameras, Minister Musa says there will be improvements in forensics.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “We are also Madam Speaker moving to increase the DNA capacity for the forensics lab and have made an ambitious call for the expansion of that facility. We were able to give our forensic technicians the capability of a ballistics library which will enhance the police’s competence to track and link firearms in gun cases. We want no stone unturned. Yes we know it will take time to fix and that the road will not be perfect and smooth but we are intent on turning the full force of what we have to getting solutions.”