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Human Rights Commission requests appointment of visiting justices at Belize Central Prison

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Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2021. 6:09 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: The Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRCB) has written to the Minister of Home Affairs, requesting the visiting Justices (a title bestowed on magistrates of the court in their capacity as the checks and balance for the prison under the provision of the Prison Act) be appointed at the Belize Central Prison, following the release of several videos and other material showing inhumane treatment of prisoners.

An anonymous source reached out to the Commission and the media last week, showing graphic images of a paraplegic inmate suffering from enormous bedsores. There was also video footage purporting to show prison officers brutalizing an inmate, who could be heard screaming in pain. Another video seemingly showed officers spraying chemicals in the faces of several inmates who were kneeling.

The HRCB noted that it could not be ascertained when the video footage was taken, or if the prisoners who were victims of the abuse are still in the prison, however, there is no dispute that the incidents occurred. The Commission noted that the Prisons Act makes provision for the appointment of visiting Justices within the first two weeks of January each year.

In its letter to the minister, the Commission said that it “made the point that if Justices were appointed it would be known exactly what was happening in the prison as the Prison Act gives them the unrestricted right to speak with any prisoner and visit any part of the prison whenever they think it necessary.”

The HRCB also notes that family members of inmates have been complaining that they are unable to see their loved ones or leave food and clothing for them.

BBN is informed that the paraplegic inmate is indeed still incarcerated at the Belize Central Prison and has actively been petitioning for consideration for parole due to his worsening condition. We will have more on this story as it develops.

 

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