Law enforcement in Belize has deteriorated so much that people no longer look to it for answers. The Minister in charge of law enforcement needs to pull up his socks.
Here’s why: Last weekend three teenage girls, detained in an institution by order of the court, were killed in a fire. They were roasted to death in a terrifyng blaze that engulfed the wooden cabin in which they had been locked.
This tragedy was like a harpoon in the hearts of many Belizeans. The lamentations and outpouring of grief were overwhelming.
The institution in question ordered an immediate investigation and suspended two of the persons responsible for the burned-down cabin.
But that is clearly not enough. There is compelling reason to believe that a serious crime has been committed.
When there is a road accident involving the loss of a person’s life, the police know instinctively that the person responsible is to be arrested and charged for not exercising due care and attention.
But nothing like this course of action was taken after the Tragedy of Gracie Rock. The two women identified as responsible were placed on administrative leave – with pay.
The people of Belize are not asking for revenge. No!No! But they are asking for fair play. They want the government to understand the seriousness of this tragedy and the measure of their grief.
They believe that the sorrowing families should be compensated, and that they should not have to persuade the government to do its duty by them. They also believe that there should be a public trial, if only to clear the air.
Let’s take another example. Let’s look at what happened in the case of David Nanes Schnitzer, a white collar crook who bilked an estimated billion pesos from investors in Mexico by making false investment claims. .
The Government of Mexico discovered that Nanes was in Belize, enjoying the good life in San Pedro, Ambergis Caye. It applied for an extradition order to return Nanes for trial in Mexico.
The extradition request was denied for some obscure reason, and Nanes was set free.
The sequel to this comedy of errors is that Nanes was allowed to slip through the police dragnet, by its failure to execute a simple maneuver. Now Mexico is upset with Belize for not being able to respond to a simple request, and the people of Belize are upset with our law enforcement because of what appears to be police collusion in the escape of a notorious crook.
Here’s another example of police indifference/incompetence. On October 4, a few days before national elections, a twin-engine plane landed at the Municipal Airport just before dawn with a mysterious cargo. The cargo was off-loaded on to two cars which were standing by. Then cars and cargo and pilot all took off and were seen no more.
Two security guards who were in charge at the time did not see anything and did not hear anything. But the airport’s security cameras were conviently turned off.
Here was a clear breach of national security. It was a clear case of smuggling as well. People have gone to jail for much less. But the two security guards were simply questioned and later suspended. That was the end of that!
All three cases cited here occurred within the first 30 days of the new government. They amount to a crushing indictment of our law enforcement capacity to detect and respond to crimes against the state. Together they amount to a shabby, shameful excuse for justice and fair play, and they confirm the reputation Belize has gained abroad as an easy-go-lucky country where everything is on sale.