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Is Belize looking at another state of emergency?

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Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2021. 5:32 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: With the sudden spike in gang violence plaguing Belize City, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that authorities are looking at all possible options of diffusing the situation, including requesting the Government declare another state of emergency (SOE).

Within the past few weeks, several murders have taken place, two of them just this week, with the Wednesday night shooting of Marquin Drury and the shooting death of Stephan Castillo in broad daylight on Thursday. Williams says that he does not like when an SOE is declared, but he is in close communication with the Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa, and all options are being considered at this point.

“We don’t want to just jump to SOE, we want to use it as a last resort so we are considering every other option,” Williams added. “If we exhaust every other option and they continue to do what they are doing, then we are going to resort to the measure of last resort,” Williams said.

He noted that police are also in contact with the Behavior Modification Center to see what kinds of interventions can be done to stem the violence but notes that dialogue can only go so far if the gang members continue to terrorize the streets making them unsafe for the public.

“We cannot always be stalking, there must come a time where talking must stop and we must take more drastic measures to ensure that these young men get the message.”

During the SOE’s police have the authority to preemptively imprison known gang members for up to 90 days. The tactic was employed several times during the Barrow administration and the current Minister of Home Affairs was vocal during his time in opposition against the measure, saying that it was ineffective and that crime needs to be tackled at the source, poverty.

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