By BBN Staff: The Ministry of National Security today issued a statement informing the public that the Belize Defence Force (BDF) is currently conducting investigations into the alleged misconduct of extortion, maltreatment, sexual assault and sexual advances at their training facility.
“The Ministry, and by extension the Belize Defence Force, has a zero-tolerance policy, particularly as it pertains to these types of misconduct. The BDF views every single case of sexual assault as a failure to manage and enforce the standard procedures that are in place to protect the recruits that were in training. This matter will be investigated thoroughly and will be dealt with accordingly,” the statement said.
In addition, the statement notes that the Commander of the Belize Defence Force Brigadier General Steven Ortega finds these occurrences to be grossly unacceptable and will ensure that the procedures are reviewed to prevent any such reoccurrence.
The Commander also urges the affected recruits to act intentionally in order to pursue justice.
The Minister of National Security John Saldivar has assigned a special investigative team.
The team will be led by Assistant Superintendent Sherlette Ramclam, recent honor graduate of the FBI Academy and includes Inspector Shaida Mckenzie, Lead Investigator at the Crimes Investigation Branch in Belize City; Josephine Garbutt, Senior Administrative Officer at the Ministry of National Security; and retired Commissioner of Police Gerald Westby, who is now the Chairman of the Civilian Complaint and Review Board.
The Ministry assures the public that it will act swiftly to ensure the complaints are investigated thoroughly and those found in violation will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.