The Government of Belize has announced its intention to beef up public prosecutions by seeking the services of a trained attorney to head the Prosecution Branch of the Police Department.
The move is believed to be a direct result of citizens’ protests in the twin towns of San Ignacio / Santa Elena last week.
The protesters, headed by eight neighbourhood watch groups, demanded among others measures, re-introduction of the death penalty for certain types of murders, a policy of no bail for sex offenders, better and more effective efforts at prosecuting criminal cases and a witness protection programme which would guard witnesses from bullying and threats.
A statement from the Cabinet, after its regular Tuesday meeting states:
“This initiative is a proactive step forward to strengthen and enhance the effective prosecution of summary criminal cases, offer readily available in-house legal advice on preliminary inquiries, assist with the review of on-going police investigation case files and create closer co-ordination with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.”
Last week the Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs. Sheryl Lynn Vidal complained about the inadequacy of police investigation.
In a direct reference to police inefficiency, Mrs. Vidal said that her office is challenged by the quality of police investigations and the lack of cooperation from witnesses.
“All of this (witness withdrawal and feeble prosecutions) can be avoided if police would do their work and bring the evidence,” she complained.
Vidal has told the police to secure more convincing evidence, before she will proceed with murder charges against Alberto Ical, a man suspected of rape and double murder.