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‘Respect authority:’ Commissioner of Police backs amended assault laws

Posted: Friday, February 23, 2024. 2:55 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: It is now the law of the land as explained in the National Assembly a few weeks ago, that under the Criminal Code and Summary Jurisdiction Acts, persons that use profane, obscene, indecent and threatening language or actions to an expanded class of public officers, including the press, while in the performance of their duties can face stiffer penalties on conviction.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police, has backed the new changes, saying the core problem is a lack of respect and referring to complaints by the Opposition United Democratic Party that the law can and will be abused: “Maybe the Opposition intend to assault a police officer or judges or persons who are executing their duties as to why they would have issues with the law. See, that is one of the issues we have in Belize, we tend to not want to respect authority. When a police officer is discharging his or her duties it is important that they be respected, likewise a judge sitting in a court hearing a matter, it is important. Again, when we look at how our society has degraded so much that the fabric of what we are as human beings is lost to some extent. The lack of respect comes from these things and there certainly is a need to restore the core function and purpose of what we are as human beings.”

The Commissioner reminded that while police will arrest it is the courts who still decide: “I believe the law is indeed timely and needed. I don’t see how it is going to be misapplied. At the end of the day the police is not going to be the prosecutor, the judge and the juror. The police is just going to be the one to apply the law in terms of arresting persons who may break the law. It has to go before a court and a magistrate is going to be the one to determine if in fact the act accused is sufficient to amount to aggravated assault and then apply the punishment as stipulated in the law. For me it is a very good law and only persons who may have intent to assault public officers in the execution of duties will have problems with that law.”

 

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