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U.S. Human Rights report highlights corruption and aggression toward media 

Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2018. 5:00 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff:

The U.S. Department of State’s recently published 2017 report on Human Rights Practices doesn’t note any major human rights violation but does cite several instances of aggression against the media as well as allegations of corruption by ministers of government.

According to the report: “The most significant human rights issues included allegations of unlawful killings by security officers, which the authorities investigated and prosecuted; allegations of corruption by government agents; allegations that several killings were motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity; trafficking in persons; and child labor.”

In some cases the government took steps to prosecute public officials who committed abuses, both administratively and through the courts, but there were few successful prosecutions. While some lower-ranking officials faced disciplinary action and/or criminal charges, higher-ranking officials were less likely to face punishment, resulting in a perception of impunity, the report said.

The report notes the incident last year in which National Assembly Mace Bearer, Brian “Yellowman” Audinett “physically assaulted two members of the press and threatened another, who was covering a protest in the Senate. The government did not immediately censure him, but he was eventually suspended from attending subsequent sessions.”

It also noted an incident in which Krem News Director, Marisol Amaya, was roughed up by police while covering an event. “In September a female journalist was physically assaulted by an officer attached to the Special Patrol Unit of the Police while she was covering a political event in Orange Walk. She subsequently made a formal complaint to the PSB. The minister of state of home affairs responded to the incident by stating, ‘The police department has a job to do and in that situation we have always asked the media to stay a distance away from the situation,'” the report said.

“Allegations of corruption in government among public officials, including ministers, chief executive officers, and deputy ministers, were numerous, although no substantial proof was presented in most cases. Investigations into corruption within the Immigration and Nationality Department in the 2011-13 period continued and uncovered several instances of questionable activities involving high-ranking government officials, including ministers of government,” the report also noted.

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