Reporting on the surging murder rate in Belize earlier this week Police Commissioner //// Whylie expressed some relief that the ten murders committed since the start of the year were not gang related.
Small consolation! In a a sense it would have been more acceptable if they had been gang related because you can explain malevolence when it comes from a single evil source. When it comes from our broader society – from towns and villages across Belize, it is time to be seriously concerned.
Ten deaths have been recorded during the first two weeks of 2016: three in Cayo, two in Belize District, one in Belmopan, one on Ambergris Caye, one in Stann Creek, one in Toledo and one in Orange Walk District. They came like some deep, dark force of evil consuming the landscape; pointing to a land and a people in great and urgent need of healing.
No one seems to know what caused this unprecendented outpouring of anger. We do know however that we’ve got to do something to stop it! We cannot continue to play deaf and dumb to the evil in our midst, or it will devour us.
Murder it seems, has reached a critical mass and our standard police procedures are unable to contain it. Life in the Jewel has become expendible, and now we learn that people are paying other people to commit murder.
Looking at the statistics we may be able to discern a pattern. The killings usually occur over the weekend when people have time to drink and socialize. Increasingly the weapon of choice is the machete. A disproportionate number of stabbings and hackings seem to be the signature work of immigrants.
Since the death penalty is no longer an option in Belize, we have to look at other measures to restore stability in areas of our country where there is no continuous police presence. For this reason we are proposing a two-pronged approach to serious crimes involving murder and rape.
For Belize’s large and growing immigrant population we are proposing a new law which will revoke the citizenship of every immigrant person convicted or rape or murder. Such a person is to be expelled from Belize at the end of his/ her designated time in jail.
Immigrant persons who are not citizens of Belize are to be expelled at the end of their designated time in jail, with no possibility of ever becoming a citizen of Belize. The minimum penalty for any person convicted of murder shall be 1,040 weeks (20 years) in jail. For rape the criminal code should prescribe 520 weeks or 10 years minimum. The Governor General of Belize shall have special amnesty powers to shorten the sentence of any convicted person who has already served more than half of his designated sentence.
Persons who are Belizean by birth will be required to spend the same minimum sentences of 1,040 weeks in jail if they are convicted or murder and 520 weeks if convicted of rape.
Meanwhile the Government of Belize would do well to consider creating another prison in some remote area of the Mountain Pine Ridge for persons convicted of rape or murder to separate them from the main body of prisoners who are serving time for lesser offences.
Such a place could be patrolled by guards on horseback, using guard dogs to assist them! Prisoners at this facility would be expected to work to sustain themselves by tilling the soil.