Monday, October 5th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: The International Organization on Migration (IOM) and local Government agencies in Belize on Saturday concluded a two-day workshop for media practitioners in Belize on awareness and reporting on violence against women, femicide and trafficking in persons.
While participation was low, those who attended had their eyes opened about these issues. The facilitator for the conference is veteran Belizean journalist based out of Jamaica, Kalilah Enriquez.
She told us that the press should question why domestic violence is not reported on as often or as thoroughly as other types of violence – it is the number one type of violence reported to police. She says the “culture” surrounding domestic violence – that it is a private matter – needs to be changed and the press can lead the way.
On Saturday attendees listened to a presentation from Belize’s only criminal investigator on cases of trafficking in persons, Corporal Guido Wright of the Major Crimes Unit based in Belmopan.
No more than five cases of trafficking in persons have been reported in Belize this year, and few cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children have been reported in the last few years, but according to Enriquez that does not mean that it is less prevalent or is occurring at a lower rate.
Enriquez agrees that those cases that do tend to be reported on in the press either involve well-known Belizean “celebrities” such as politicians and people of standing, or particularly unusual cases. But she adds that the press also needs to move to investigating the actual cases instead of simply reporting on training events such as these.
Note that smuggling is simply moving persons around with their consent, while trafficking adds the element of fear, intimidation or coercion.
The media training is part of an overall project created through the Central American Security Strategy created by the heads of state and Governments of the Central American Integration System, SICA, and is managed through the Central American Security Commission based at the SICA General Secretariat.
The BA1 project carries four components: fighting crime, violence prevention, rehabilitation, reintegration and penitentiary security, and institutional strengthening. Additional plans include harmonizing the legal framework related to these issues, and cooperation between key agencies addressing them.
In addition to Belize City the projects are being implemented in Ambergris and Caye Caulker, the Belize River Valley, Patchakan in Corozal, the towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Benque Viejo in Cayo, and Bella Vista in Stann Creek District.
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