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New laws and amendments in the fight against crime

Strategy number two will focus on legislative reforms. The department feels that to increase its effectiveness in addressing crime, and especially gang-related crime and violence, legislation reform is key. For this, recommendations for amendments to existing legislation and the writing of new ones have been made. One of these is the enactment of an anti-gang legislation.

Allen Wylie – Commissioner of Police

“The anti-gang provisions as contained in the current Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act Chapter 102 of the Substantive Laws of Belize revised edition 2011 will be repealed and be replaced with a new anti-gang act. This new act will provide law enforcement officers with the legislative authority to effectively target the gang and their criminal activities. It would also create a number of offenses aimed at the financiers as well as supporters of those criminal gangs along with stiffer penalties. It would also allow for the identity of witnesses in gang related trials to be protected. Specifically the enactment of this new act will create specific offenses for gang membership and gang activities, create specific offenses for gang members who are found with firearms or bullet proof vests, create specific offenses for persons who harbor gang members, create specific offenses for persons who lend supports to any gang. It also increase the Police powers to suppress gang activities. It will provide for the issuing of injunctions by the court restricting the movement of gang members. It will provide for the creation of a gang watch list and it will also prohibit the recruitment of persons from joining a gang. It will provide for specific offenses with severe penalties for a law enforcement officer who joins or provide support to any gang.”

And there is the recommendation to amend the firearm act chapter 143 of the substantive laws of Belize revised edition 2011. Commissioner Whylie specified which areas will be affected.

Allen Wylie – Commissioner of Police

Creation of the offense of firearm trafficking, creation of the offense of ammunition trafficking. It will allow a certification of firearm license holders by the Belize Police Department as well as for the re-certification of those holders every three years and it will also allow for stiffer penalties for firearm offenses, stiffer penalties for crime committed with a firearms. The enactment of a witness on anonymity act which would allow for non disclosure of the identities of witnesses in criminal cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, robbery, attempted robbery, rape where the offense or the injury or death was caused by a firearm or other offensive weapon or where the commission of the offense involve a firearm or other offensive weapon.”

The recommendations also include the enactment of legislation to allow for the admission of video identification and other digital and audio evidence in judicial proceedings. Additionally, the department is proposing to amend the police Act which they believe will provide for greater accountability and control, allow for greater streamlining of the disciplinary process and minimize delays of disciplinary tribunals.