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…………………..Message No. 9/12!

…………………..Message No. 9/12!
January 04
19:12 2020

Message No. 9/12!

By Major Lloyd Jones (Ret’d) –

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
— Martin Niemöller
“People prefer dictatorships if the alternative is chaos”

A recent internal Police memo from the Commissioner of Police, to all his Commanders, in which he directed them on which information they should collect at vehicle check points made its way to Facebook. It sparked widespread debate and surprisingly there were a number of prominent people who, in support of the Police, argued that if you have nothing to hide you should not be concerned about the check points. Those people clearly occupy a space in nirvana. Martin Niemöller warned us about looking the other way when one segment of the population is targeted ultra vires the law. Look away if you will but when it is your turn there will be no one there to help you!

It is an undeniable fact that since 2008 crime has taken on a dark and terrifying face in Belize. Murders surged in 2009 and have since hovered just under 150/year making Belize one of the most murderous nation on earth. Street violence got so bad that at one point the Police contorted itself to find every excuse for the spate of murders rather than to assign them to street gangs.

Nobody has been able to document in any meaningful way the linkages between the political parties and the street gangs and how such linkages have fuelled the violence. We know that since 2008 Mr. Barrow has shown a particular affinity for leaders of street gangs and in fact he once left an official regional function to return to Belize just to meet these criminals notwithstanding the law which proscribes gang membership.

We also know that when Dianne Finnegan decided to enter electoral politics she told the nation quite plainly that “when I decided that I wanted to run in Lake Independence I said I’d call 2 influential individuals that I know and that was Battery from PIV and Joseph from backaland and I spoke to both about my intentions and without hesitation Joseph said Miss D I got you. He’s been instrumental in making sure the guys carry out their respective responsibilities in getting people to re-register and register, but most of all vote for me.” Dianne took serious flak for her statement but she was not lying. Dianne only confirmed what we had long suspected: that there are linkages between street gangs and politicians/political parties.

There has never been such a glaring linkage between the PUP and street gangs when compared to the UDP. It doesn’t mean that there was no connection; it could mean that Said Musa was a little more subtle in his dealings with the streets.
It is widely believed that a great deal of the violence that we are seeing today has to do with street justice. In Belize it seems that Lady Justice left Courthouse Wharf a long time ago and now roams the streets. Unfortunately the Police have been slow to adjust its policing strategy to match the nature of violent crimes in Belize. The question that we should be asking ourselves is if this descent into chaos is happenstance or if it is orchestrated?

Recently the criminals changed their modus operandi yet again; they began to “disappear” people. The fact that the disappearances have grown in number indicates that the Police lack the institutional agility and astuteness to counter this new phenomenon. It is this deficiency and a good deal of frustration that has forced the Police to revert, more and more, to ineffective draconian measures. Message No. 9/12 is one manifestation of this theory.

The Police do not have the right to harvest information about the whereabouts and movements of citizens. Not only is this unconstitutional but in fact history teaches us that the control of the movement of law abiding citizens is extremely dangerous and is often one of the principal tools used by dictators to monitor and eventually do away with opponents.
Kenya, Chile, Guatemala and Germany all provide sufficient evidence of the dangers of such controls which are often disguised as being in the interest of “national security.”

The Police argue that the measures set out in Message No. 9/12 are not meant to target law abiding citizens but that they are designed to bring discomfort to criminals using the highways. But criminals have been having a free run of the City and other municipalities, not the highways. Have the Police forgotten about Justin Stephen Teck who was shot on New Road, a hundred meters away from the largest station in the country? What about Clive Kevin Hyde who was murdered literally at the doorsteps of the Hattieville Police station? If the Police can’t stop murders at their doorsteps, how can they expect us to believe that these ubiquitous check points will?

The Police have been conducting checkpoints for years and they are yet to provide the Belizean people with the data that shows how effective they are. How many vehicles have been stopped and searched and how many violations were detected?

The truth of the matter is that the Barrow administration has done nothing of substance to address crime. No forensic laboratory, no effective legislation, no real social investments. Instead they have given us more boots on the ground, more checkpoints and punishment by remand. And now they have given us Message N0. 9/12!

If it is that the National Security Council believes that the internal security situation is so bad that they wish to deprive us of our constitutional rights, then let them recommend the declaration of a state of emergency. Until then we must insist that they do away with this nonsense Belize or we shall come to regret it.

* * * * *

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