Police brutality a major human right issue in Belize, U.S. State Department says

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2017. 2:03 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Police brutality is Belize’s most pressing human rights issue, according to the US Department of State’s (USDS) Country Report on Human Rights practices 2016.

The most important human rights abuses included the use of excessive force by security forces (especially the police),” the USDS said. “The government occasionally ignored reports of police abuse, delayed action, failed to take disciplinary action, or transferred accused officers to other areas within their department”

The report highlighted the death of 30-year-old Edwin Ixpatac, who died in police custody reportedly beaten by on duty officers as a major event emphasizing the abuse of human rights by security forces. 

The Ombudsman’s Office stated that it received 217 new complaints of police abuse in 2015 and that 41 percent of these were either investigated, resolved, or under investigation. Police abuse was the most common complaint, in particular against members of the Gang Suppression Unit. The BPD’s Professional Standards Branch (PSB) received complaints from all parts of the country, but the majority were from Belize City.

The annual report, released earlier this month, analyzes human rights practices in seven categories: Respect for the Integrity of the person; Respect for civil liberties; Freedom to participate in the political process; Corruption and lack of transparency in government; governmental attitude regarding international and nongovernmental investigation of alleged violations of human rights;  Discrimination, societal abuses, and trafficking in persons; and Worker rights.

The report also highlighted lengthy pretrial detention, and harassment and threats based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as other major human rights issues in Belize.

The country did fairly well with respect to political participation and workers rights, however the corruption and governmental transparency was another black eye for Belize. 

The USDS cited the infamous land transaction between GOB and son of former Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega, whereby Vega’s son Andre, was compensated $400,000 in an illegal land transaction.

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