Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2018. 8:13 a.m. CST.
By Richard Harrison: The crime rate in Belize is far way over and above where Belizeans want it…it now has the fifth highest murder rate in the Americas. It is not only high…it is growing rapidly.
This crime wave started 30 years ago….shortly after Independence…when political leaders and marijuana drug lords became partners. Corruption allowed them to penetrate the justice system…the courts and security apparatus….today they largely control these institutions.
As the economy deteriorated in Belize and the region, human trafficking and prostitution grew rapidly out of neighbouring republics…mixing with the abundant alcohol, drugs, Kingston and inner-city USA gangsta culture and tourism into a bubbling pot of crime stew…only to be fertilized by big money human trafficking from the east….predatory banking and money laundering…cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine trafficking…all wound into a cozy nest around the political elite, their frock-wearing socialites and their uniform-wearing German-shepherds….institutionalized criminology.
These have been having their way in Belize over the past 30 years..colluding to produce less than 5% conviction rate…and breeding criminal minds who are very certain that they can do whatever they like…and most likely will get away scott free.
The rest of the population wake up daily to this reality…of compromised justice…and this forces many to take the law into their own hands if and when they see the need. Their frustration turns to anger…an explosive keg ready to detonate at the slightest upset.
Then there is the growing economic pressure and pain….where many are finding it hard to cope with….and many are running around like little dynamites…just pull a pin and BOOM!!
If Belize is to reverse this growing crime wave anytime soon, here is what needs to be done:
1. Bring in some reputable justices from New Zealand, Australia or Canada on 5-year contracts…countries that have better justice profiles than ours…..and with better work ethic to deliver timely and fair justice…
2. Replace ALL senior police with retired officers with good service record that are still capable and willing to serve. A small, well equipped “police of the police” should be brought in from UK and paid for by the Head of State’s government and answerable only to the Governor General, and should discipline the entire police force. The police training school should be put under UB criminal justice program that takes 3 years of study to become official police officers….after which they qualify for rank and salary commensurate with their training and performance. Disband the Belize Police Department and the Belize Defense Force….and from the best among them form one Belize National Security Service….a fit, highly trained and well paid military police…with all their resources joined.
3. Legalize and regulate marijuana production and distribution….since consumption has already been legalized. Significantly increase penalties for production, distribution and use of other highly addictive drugs.
4. Adopt economic and financial policies that will make the economy grow faster than 4% per annum….reduce unemployment to around 6%….and put real incomes on a sustainable upward trajectory. This is quite within our reach if the political leaders let go of their ego and put the best Belizean minds to work.
If Belize were to do these four things….there would be no need for intervention of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)….and its Commission againts Impunity and Corruption in Belize (CICIB)….which is an involuntary purge that goes much deeper and takes much longer to start to reverse the crime rate trend.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
This article was written by Richard Harrison, Belizean investor in production and services businesses in Belize. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Lancaster University.
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