Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020. 1:40 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Member for Caribbean Shores, Kareem Musa, said today’s amendment to the Defence Act sends a strong signal that sexual abuse of military personnel, male or female, will not be tolerated.
The Belize Defence Force (BDF) was rocked earlier this year by allegations of a culture of sexual harassment and specific instances of rape and sexual assault.Musa said the Police must have more of a mandate to investigate such allegations and be supported by their military partners.
The specific section of the Act, 62, deals with what constitutes “disgraceful conduct” of a soldier: “Any person subject to military law who is guilty of disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent or unnatural kind shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or any less punishment provided by this Act.”Per Minister of Education Patrick Faber, nothing prevents victims of sexual offenses from filing a report with the Police, nor the Police from investigating such reports. The intent of the section will be discussed prior to passing the final version of the amendment.
Representative for Corozal Southeast, Florencio Marin, Jr., pointed to the matter of retirement age for soldiers, pensions for retiring officers, and translating their specific and unique skills to life after the military. Soldiers are not covered, he revealed, by Social Security, complicating their retirement plans and affecting their coverage for injuries. And active soldiers do face issues with the procurement of needed equipment from boots to ammunition, he added.
Opposition Leader John Briceño called for re-training soldiers in the last years of their service to prepare them for post-military life.Minister for Foreign Affairs, Wilfred Elrington, suggested something similar to the U.S. GI Bill of Rights, which provided discounted education and housing for former soldiers. He also cited a conversation with an Italian politician who ruminated about “turning our armies into universities.”And Toledo West’s Oscar Requeña added that soldiers and law enforcement deserve land to retire on and proper living quarters for those who defend us on a daily basis.
While the complaints made are obvious and not to be denied, the Prime Minister said in completing the debate, they are not specifically covered by these amendments. But he paid tribute to the “tremendous pool of talent” hosted by the Force, which he first saw as a former Minister of National Security, and lamented the “mismatch” between those skills and the kinds of jobs they can obtain after retirement.
Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Belize ~ We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages. Your content is delivered instantly to thousands of users in Belize and abroad! Contact us at mаrkеtіng@brеаkіngbеlіzеnеwѕ.соm or call us at 501-601-0315.
© 2020, BreakingBelizeNews.com. Content is copyrighted and requires written permission for reprinting in online or print media. Theft of content without permission/payment is punishable by law.