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July 20
09:29 2018

National Security Minister, John Saldivar announced during the opening of the Citizen Security Summit held this week at the Belize City Civic Centre that a new taskforce is being set up to tackle police corruption. “In collaboration with the US Government and the US Embassy here in Belize, we are setting up a taskforce to investigate police corruption. That taskforce will have the participation of an agent of the US Government as well as officers of the Belize Police Department,

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Minister John Saldivar said. “We have also established in our Ministry an internal watchdog committee which will act as an advisory committee to the Minister on the matter of citizen complaints against Police, so we are basically tackling two of the main issues that were addressed in our consultation: police corruption as well as citizen complaints against police,” he added. In the months leading up to today’s summit, which had the participation of roughly 150 stakeholders, National Security teams met with representatives from the trade unions (the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, the Public Service Union and the Belize National Teachers’ Union), the private sector (the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Tourism Industry Association), as well as other members of civil society.

Today’s summit marked the climax of those consultations, providing a space for those stakeholders as well as other interest groups, including representations of the NGO community and private individuals concerned about crime, to come together in group sessions to answer key questions about the state of crime in Belize.

The summit had two main objectives. The first was to let the remaining stakeholders and other interest groups know what the Ministry of National Security is doing to address citizen security and how they can partner with the Ministry in its efforts. The second objective was to discuss new ways or suggest solutions to address citizen security issues especially for Region 1 in Belize City, which encompasses the Southside.

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of National Security, Ret’d. Col. George Lovell, spoke of the need to cease the stigmatization and labeling of Southside Belize City. He also pointed to “developmental crime prevention” as one of the areas in which the Government and stakeholders can work together to positively impact the behavior of children with particular emphasis on children between the ages of 1 and 5. “Crime prevention through social development includes a range of social, education, health and training programs that target at-risk children and families, especially when children are young, to provide them with support and child-rearing skills,” the CEO said.

He also spoke of the planned re-establishment of the Crime Control Council, initially commissioned in 2008 and formerly headed by the late Michael Young, SC. With the re-establishment of the Council, “opportunities will be open for groups like the unions to channel their efforts and ideas … to influence future crime fighting initiatives,” said Lovell. “It is my hope that from the discussions that we will have here today we will produce a comprehensive list of possible solutions that may be useful to influence existing and future Citizen Security Policies and Plans,” CEO Lovell told the Summit participants.

A sub-group of Summit participants will convene in late August to look at the outputs from the summit — including proposed solutions that will be outlined in a report to be prepared by the consultant, Willie Pannell, who guided the group discussions at the Summit.

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