Editorial

Editorial

We have been greatly encouraged by the action of the General Legal Council in taking a more hands-on approach to the workings of the justice system in Belize.

The justice system is only as good as the integrity of those officers who administer it, and sad to say, officer quality has deteriorated over the years.

Since the beginning of this year, three well-known lawyers have been publicly rebuked for bilking their clients out of substantial sums of money. There are mounting reports of others who accept deposits from clients and never complete the work they have been paid to do.

Attorneys are generally well educated men and women, and as officers of the court, they have a stature in the community which must be upheld.

When a practicing attorney stoops to folly, the whole corps of men and women in the profession suffers by association.
The problem of violence towards people in police custody is another matter altogether. This week police violence showed its ugly head again when a 18 year old student was killed while in detention at the Caye Caulker Police Station.

Violence is an endemic problem which has infected the Belize Police Department for decades.
The violence has its origin in a neurosis. It is an impulse and anger-control disorder, and many of our policemen are infected with the virus.

A person with this kind of disorder is not suitable material for police work. He or she should be screened out during early training at the Police Academy to avoid further contamination down the road.

The resolve of the Minister of Police, Mr. John Saldivar, to vigorously pursue the investigation and to see that justice is done is a reassuring first step.
But it is not enough!

He needs to go to the root cause of this culture of violence and pluck it out.
Men and women applying to join the Police Department should be examined not only for their physical fitness and mental alertness. They should be screened for emotional stability as well. The training they receive should equip them to deal with emotional fatigue under stressful situations.

Since there are many seasoned policemen and women who carry this virus of authority complex, there ought to be ongoing in-house programmes to help police officers recognize the problem and deal with it.

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