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#407574 - 05/12/11 03:03 PM New Crime Fighting Measures Coming
Marty Offline
The House of Representatives will meet in Belmopan on Friday. During the session,parliamentarians will witness the introduction of legislation that will bring someunprecedented changes to the country's laws. The proposed changes are part of newanti-crime initiatives by the administration of Prime Minister Dean Barrow. They includelegislation that will remove trial by jury is cases of murder. Prime Minister Dean Barrowis on record as telling the Guardian newspaper that his reading of the law as it currentlystands; there is no need to make constitutional amendments to put this measure inplace.

In addition to removing trial by jury in cases of murder, the proposed changedwould also make it possible for persons accused of attempted murder, conspiracy tocommit murder and abetment of murder to also be tried without the input of a jury of their peers. As he had publically mentioned before, the Prime Minister will also seek toclose loopholes in the Magistrate's Court where convicted criminals use the system toget a stay on their sentences via the appeals process.

As Love News understands it,the change will make it so that even if an appeal is lodged, it will not mean the appellantgets to be out of jail. In addition, the proposed change would make it mandatory that allappeals have to go to the Supreme Court. Persons on death row will also not beexempted from the proposed changes. The government intends to amend theconstitution to lift the death penalty above constitutional challenge and will go further bysetting aside long established practice of not hanging anyone on death row for morethan five years. This principle has been in use in the Caribbean since the 1993 PrivyCouncil ruling in the case of Pratt and Morgan versus the Attorney General of Jamaica.In that landmark case, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that a delay inexcess of five years or more would constitute 'cruel and inhuman treatment' contrary tothe Constitution of Jamaica. But perhaps the biggest change that will come out of Friday's House Meeting will be the setting in motion of the process that would legalizewhat is widely known as preventative detention.

Government will introduce anamendment to the constitution that would allow for preventative detention. Since it is aconstitutional change, preventative detention won't come into effect right away, as theproposed change will have to go through the House Committee process which includespublic consultations, for a period of not less than ninety days. Thereafter, governmentproposes to enact legislation that would explain how the preventative detention will work.

Another of the government’s proposed new crime fighting measures includes thesetting up of a national apprenticeship program where repeat offenders otherwiseknown as young people who are habitually in trouble with the law, will not go to prison;but instead be placed in an institution where they will be taught life skills and giveninstruction in practical tradesman ship. Friday's House of Representatives Meeting willtake place in the National Assembly building in Belmopan. The entire proceedings willbe aired live on Love FM starting at ten o'clock in the morning<

LOVEFM


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#407688 - 05/13/11 05:05 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
By G. Michael Reid

Most societies tolerate a certain level of unequal application of the
law based on the violator’s connections, fame, and/or economic status.
But regardless of the status of the accused, unequal application of
the law for certain violations should not be tolerated by any society.

~ anon.


Belize’s Parliamentarians are scheduled to meet again this coming
Friday and among the bills expected to be tabled, are a few proposed
amendments to our constitution. With a super majority in the House
and a still very one sided Senate in place, nothing and no one will be
able to stop Mr. Barrow’s heavy hand as he has promised that “this
time” his preventative detention and other draconian measures will be
put in place.

The crime situation in Belize continues to ravage out of control as
the bodies pile up and our once “safe haven of democracy” remains on
another record setting pace for murders. While crime is nothing new
to Belize and while we did see murders before this current
administration took office, few were prepared for the sharp upturn
that has occurred since February of 2008.

The current increase in violence began the day after this
administration took office three years ago, and hardly had their oath
been signed, than gunfire erupted across the city. Many will remember
the infamous incident that occurred at the Putt Putt Bar just hours
after Mr. Barrow and his team was sworn into office. In that
incident, a barrage of gunshots was indiscriminately fired into a
group of patrons to a late night club on the Barracks. When it was
all over, as many as eleven persons lay injured and one young woman’s
life was cut short. Incidentally, the establishment was at the time
being managed by the son of a high ranking UDP official and that
incident seems to have ushered in a new era of violence to Belize.
Since then, things have grown progressively worse with the new aspect
of grenade attacks added to the drama. This government has done
little to assure Belizeans that they have any workable solution to the
problems.

Faced with increasing pressure from the electorate, Mr. Barrow, who
for the most part seems totally inept and clueless as what to do, has
decided to try a heavy handed approach. Among the measures being
proposed by the Prime Minister, is for suspects in murder trials to be
tried without a jury and for suspects to be detained for an almost
unlimited period of time with no charges and no consultation with
family or lawyers allowed. Can someone say, “Guantanamo Bay”?

This Friday, Mr. Barrow is preparing to reintroduce his “preventative
detention” bill which he first proposed in 2010 but which at that
time, even according the Prime Minister, “caused a huge outcry.” This
time, the bill is being introduced on the heels of yet another grenade
incident and Mr. Barrow seems to believe that Belizeans are now
frightened enough to allow him any measure to attempt to curb the
violence. Some believe that the timing of this recent grenade launch
is uncannily convenient to the introduction of these new laws.
Interestingly enough, the first time Mr. Barrow attempted to put in
place his “preventative detention” program, it also coincided with a
thrown grenade that did not explode; coincidence? You be the judge.

There are still dissenting voices to Mr. Barrow’s proposals, but with
a super majority, a Senate heavily in his favor and an arrogant
determination, Belizeans will soon be missing loved ones for an
extended period of time.
Belizeans understand that the current level of crime is intolerable
and that something needs to be done. Mr. Barrow would have an easier
time implementing his tough measures were it not for his party’s
penchant for victimization and selective enforcement. Many are
fearful that whatever authority is vested in the enforcers of these
laws will be abused and will be used to further intimidate and oppress
the citizenry. I have no doubt that more people would be in favor of
tough measures if we could be assured that they would be applied to
the purpose for which they are intended and if they were to be applied
across the board. It has already been proven that certain cows will
be considered sacred and regardless of deed or record, will be exempt
from whatever laws are put in place.

Belizeans got a taste of just how conditional this justice will be
dispensed when a few weeks ago, UDP stalwart James “Raindrops” Swan
was somehow caught up in the dragnet of the dreaded Gang Suppression
Unit. (GSU). Members of the GSU (one can only imagine that some
mistake was made) paid a visit to the residence of Mr. Swan and
discovered a quantity of marijuana and a gun magazine for which none
of the residents had a license. Now according to Mr. Barrow’s new
law, every person present is to be charged for “possession of an
unlicensed firearm.” Interestingly enough, while there were four
persons present, namely Swan, his daughter, his son and his son’s
girlfriend, only one person was so charged. Mr. Barrow’s law also
dictates that no bail shall be given for such an offense which meant
that Swan would, at the very least, spend the long weekend in jail.
That was not to be the case as no less than the DPP herself appeared
in a special hearing of the court and agreed to the granting of bail
to Raindrops. According to the DPP, Mr. Swan was suffering from
diabetes and therefore could not endure the conditions of lockdown.
Should that not mean then, that every jack man incarcerated at this
time with diabetes be set free or at least be granted bail?

The problem that most Belizeans have with this Dean Barrow
administration is its partisan approach to politics. Mr. Barrow has
made it clear that he considers himself primarily, a Prime Minister of
the United Democratic Party. All goods and services are dispensed on a
“red first” basis and it has now become obvious that even the
enforcement of our laws will be carried out with a bias against those
outside of Mr. Barrow’s close circle of confidants.

A society with laws that are enforced selectively and that exempts any
group for whatever reason is a society on a road to disobedience and
disaster. We already see this manifesting itself in wanton aggression,
prejudice and wholesale violence. Citizens rebel in rather peculiar
ways and much of the violence occurring today is as a result of the
people’s dissatisfaction with the current leadership. More draconian
law is definitely not the answer but an equal application of the
existing ones might be a good place to good start. What the Prime
Minister is proposing will only make matters worse. Mr. Barrow has
only to look at the statistics following his deployment of his
paramilitary GSU. Over the past weekend alone there were nine
shootings which left two persons dead and sent the current murder
count to an incredible forty-eight victims for the year already. Is
this what you call progress Mr. Barrow?

Belizeans are tired of the high level of crime and the daily shootings
and murders. Something has to be done and most people understand
that. What is not understood and what will not be tolerated is an
unequal enforcement of the laws. Do something Mr. Barrow, by all
means, but whatever you do; do it to goose as well as to the gander..


--
G. Michael Reid

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#407689 - 05/13/11 05:07 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Tomorrow's proceedings are going to be broadcast on LOVE FM starting at 10am.

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#407695 - 05/13/11 05:17 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
SP Daily Offline
TODAY!

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#407785 - 05/14/11 03:57 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
NEW ANTI CRIME LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House of Representatives met today in Belmopan. On the agenda was a series of five bills which are part of the government’s anti-crime measures. In introducing the Bills for their first reading, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said the amendments are part of his administration’s declared determination to strengthen the legal infrastructure that assists in the fight against crime and violence. At the heart of the measures is the Belize Constitution Eight Amendment Bill, which provides for the much talked about preventative Detention.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“Clause two of the Bill proposes to amend section 5 of the Constitution which section deals with the protection of the right to personal liberty and we wish to do that in order to provide for the preventive or preventative, either word is fine, to provide for the preventative detention of persons associated with criminal activities in the interest of public safety peace and good order. Let me make clear to people who are listening, Mr. Speaker that if we succeed in changing the Constitution, what we are doing is to introduce into the Constitution an enabling provision; in other words as things now stand you can’t have a law that provides for the detention of citizens for longer than 48 hours without a charge being laid, without being taken before a court because the Constitution prevents that from happening. If this change goes through, that will no longer be the case; the Constitution would permit the passage of a detailed bill that would then spell out what the implementing provisions of a preventative detention regime would be. Clause two of the bill that is being introduced would provide an overriding safeguard in that it makes clear that under the implementing legislation any detention order that would be possible, that the police could secure from the authorities, could not last longer than 21 days. If there is a need to extend that under the implementing law, that law will provide for an application so to extend to be made to a judge of the Supreme Court. Let me point out Mr. Speaker that there are similar laws in the UK, in India and in other countries.”

The Eight Constitutional Amendment Bill also seeks to strengthen legislation already in place, which provides for care orders in respect to children or young people involved in anti-social behavior; but the Prime Minister explained, the proposed amendment, will now make those previous changes constitution proof. The Bill is also proposing to make the death penalty beyond constitutional challenge. The Prime Minister says he is prepared to absorb whatever repercussions there may be from international scrutiny, because, to paraphrase him: those international groups are not walking in our shoes.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“Mr. Speaker the preventative detention amendment is sure to attract a great deal of debate as it had done on the last occasion when we attempted it. I want to make clear that those that are engaging in the debate I would want to suggest ought to try to be helpful, ought to try to be constructive, ought to try to make suggestions to help the government and the society to deal with this problem that we are trying to attack. It is not useful to do what some lawyers have tried to do, simply to get up and criticise and to hurl accusations and to make charges. There is a problem and only a fool would not accept that it is a huge problem that requires the efforts of all of us and so it cannot be helpful simply point fingers rather than to attempt to assist the Government in coming to grips with the problem. The preventative detention provisions, let me make clear that when the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee is going about this country because naturally since what we are proposing is an amendment to the constitution there must be the countrywide consultations, there must be a 90 day waiting period. We will provide a draft of the implementing legislation in the event we succeed in changing the constitution. The law that would actually implement the provisions provide the detailed provision for how the preventative detention regime would work. We will circulate that, we will give it to the social partners and of course to the wider public so when the Committee, when the Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Committee of the House is engaging the public, the public will have that draft legislation on which to comment in relation to which they could make suggestions. Nobody is going to stand on this side of the house and suggest that the draft we provide is going to be perfect. We are hoping that that draft will in fact be improved as a consequence of the debate. What we want to signal is that once we have the number of this side we will pass the constitutional amendment.”

Also introduced today were bills to amend the laws to provide for trial by jury. The Prime Minister says while it may be new to Belize, trial by jury has been in existence in the Commonwealth for quite some time now. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister says he is borrowing from legislations in other jurisdictions. Two other bills which were introduced today included an amendment to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act to provide for stiffer penalties for person convicted of gang-related crimes; and an amendment to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act which would eliminate the practice of staying a magistrate’s decision on conviction while the matter is being appealed to the Supreme Court. And while five bills were introduced at today’s sitting, two were brought up for second reading. They included the Firearms Amendment Bill which provides for the registration of bullet proof vests and the BELTRAIDE Amendment Bill which provides for the expansion of the functions of the government agency.

LOVEFM

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#407789 - 05/14/11 04:01 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Hang ‘em high; death penalty making a comeback

Dean Barrow

The House of Representatives met in Belmopan; today’s sitting was one of the shortest concluding before one o’clock. With the country’s murder toll at forty nine within five months of the year, a series of controversial measures and constitutional amendments were introduced that are sure to bring debate not only from across the floor, but from local and foreign entities. The amendment to the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Bill intends to zone in on gang related activities and increase penalties for related crimes. But it’s the amendments to the Belize Constitution that may bring both praise and fury from the public, human rights organizations and the church. Prime Minister Dean Barrow intends to bring back the death penalty with the Belize Constitution (Eight Amendment) Bill 2011. Clause four of the amendment refers to inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment. The proposed constitutional change will allow for the death sentence to be executed.

Dean Barrow

“We are going to put something in the constitution, if we can secure the votes, to obviate that possibility, to make sure you can’t challenge the death penalty. If a Court of Law finds that you are guilty of murder and says that you are ought to hang; that you are ought to be put to death, then we want to know that you can’t challenge that on the basis that there is some constitutional right that provides you from being executed. I am sure that that measure is going to be extremely popular with the public. It might get us into some difficulty internationally because there are all these liberal western European democracies that insist that the death penalty is in fact inhuman or degrading punishment. Well, they don’t live in small society that we live in, they are not experiencing the concentrated fury of this assault on our lives, on our dignity, on our citizen security and so we will do what we believe we have to do for the protection of citizens in our society.”

Barrow says that the amendment will also free the courts of cases that are delayed on death penalty appeals.

Channel 5


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#407790 - 05/14/11 04:03 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Constitutional Amendment seeks preventative detention up to 21 days

The absence of witnesses from the stand may have a technological twist. As part of the amendment, there is also a provision to establish a video link through which witnesses may testify. But before there is a trial, there has to be an accused charged with a crime. The administration intends to widen the scope of time that the cops can withhold a suspect for questioning. Forty-eight hours has often been the allotted time before that person of interest is released. But the constitutional amendment also establishes the possibility of detention up to twenty-one days. It’s a controversial amendment that is bound to have anyone who is locked up in the police holding cell crying foul. And according to Barrow, an application to the Supreme Court should also be able to extend that twenty- one days without charges.

Dean Barrow

“Clause two of the bill proposes to amend section five of the constitution which section deals with the protection of the right of personal liberty. And we wish to do that in order to provide for preventative detention of persons associated with criminal activities in the interest of public safety, peace and good order. Now let me make clear to the people who are listening Mister Speaker that if we succeed in changing the constitution, what we are doing is to introduce into the constitution an enabling provision. In other words, as things now stand, you can’t have a law that provides for the detention of citizens for longer than forty-eight hours without a charge being laid, without being taken before a court, because the constitution prevents that from happening. If this change goes through, that will no longer be the case; the constitution would permit the passage of a detailed bill that will then spell out what the implementing provisions of a preventative detention regime would be. Clause 2 of the bill that’s being introduced would provide an overriding safeguard in that it makes clear that under the implementing legislation, any detention order that would be possible, that the police secured from the authorities, could not last longer than twenty-one days. If there is a need to extend that under the implementing law, that law will provide for an application so to extent to be made to judge of the Supreme Court.”

The preventative detention amendment was first proposed back on April twenty-fifth, 2008 but then withdrawn a month later due to public outcry. Now that it’s back on the table, aspects of the bill have been further modified.

Channel 5


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#407791 - 05/14/11 04:03 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Legislation seeks to introduce trial without jury in murder cases

The significance of a trial by a jury of peers was etched into literary history over half a century ago in the play Twelve Angry Men and it has been part of our legal system throughout Belize’s history. But what can be considered progressive or regressive, depending on your perspective, a trial by jury particularly in murder cases will more than likely cease to exist. Imposition of the death penalty and murder trials without juries will need the support of three fourths or twenty four members out of the thirty-one elected members of the House for a constitutional amendment. Despite the fact that the Barrow administration easily wins the numbers game because of their super majority in the House, the P.M. felt it necessary to explain the bold move that also includes provisions that will allow witnesses to be absent from the witness stand.

Dean Barrow

“To provide for the anonymity of witnesses and the admission of witness statements into evidence at a criminal trial to ensure the safety of witnesses to provide for trial without a jury in certain cases in criminal proceedings. To clarify the provisions regarding the imposition and execution of the death sentence for capital offences and to provide for matters connect therewith or incidental thereto. Mister Speaker, since the proposed Belize Constitution Eight Amendment Bill 2011 introduces some sea changes with respect to traditional fundamental rights. I believe it is important even at this introductory stage to describe for the public and of course the members of the House the key features of the bill. It is a traditional sacrosanct right that if you are accused of something, you should be able to face your accuser, you should be able to face anybody who is going to testify against you. And so this is a fundamental change Mister Speaker and we are well aware of that. But then again we fool ourselves if we don’t accept that witnesses don’t come forward especially with respect to gang-related shootings and gang-related murders because they are told that if they say anything, they too will be murdered. It has happened, it’s not a matter of talking, it’s not a matter of idle threats, it has happened and it has happened on several occasions. So if we are going to be able to get the evidence that will allow us to secure convictions, especially in the case of gang-related murders, we need a provision such as this one.”

Channel 5


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#407793 - 05/14/11 04:06 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Witnesses Won’t Have To Face Accusers

Another constitutional change will permit witnesses to remain anonymous, meaning they won't have to face the person they are accusing in court, and that they can provide testimony through sworn witness statements.

The PM said this measure is vital to ensuring successful prosecution in the current crime climate:…

PM Dean Barrow

"The question of anonymity of witnesses - that is really a huge step again, it is a traditional sacrosanct right that if you are accuse of something you should be able to face your accuser. You should be able to face anybody who is going to testify against you and so this is a fundamental change Mr. Speaker and we are well aware of that. But again we fool ourselves if we don't accept that witnesses don't come forward especially with respects to gang related shootings, gang related murders because they are told that if they say anything they too will be murdered and it has happen. It's not a matter of taking, it's not a matter of idle threats - it has happen and it has happen on several occasions."

Channel 7


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#408294 - 05/20/11 02:58 PM Re: New Crime Fighting Measures Coming [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

21 Days in Paradise

In the interest of public safety, peace and good order, the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow, introduced the Constitution (Eight Amendment) Bill, 2011 which will provide for the preventative detention of suspected criminals for more than forty-eight hours. If the bill is passed into law as it is, police will be able to secure a detention order to hold suspects for up to 21 days without pressing charges against them. If there is a need to extend the detention then the authorities must apply for an extension to a judge of the Supreme Court.

Opponents of the bill are already making charges against the idea of preventative detention. Some would want you to believe that police will just go around and lock up anybody they feel like. This is their tactic in an attempt to instill fear in the minds of decent productive citizens. Obviously, this is not the case. Preventative detention is for the criminally aligned. Everybody knows who are the few people causing chaos in our society but yet they continue to do so. When introducing the bill, PM Barrow spoke of a case where police had apprehended a suspect who they knew had committed a murder. However, there was not enough evidence to charge him. The individual had to be released from police custody after serving 48 hours. Shortly after his release he went on to kill two other people. The case is a perfect example of what is happening in the city. There are a few people responsible for the murders and gun violence that has plagued us and eliminated our sense of safety. Legal minds will argue upon the individual’s right to freedom. However, is the freedom of a few irrational individuals more important than the freedom of thousands of decent citizens? They have trampled upon our right to freedom for years. We are not free to walk where we want. We are not free to be out late at night. We are not free to play in our yards. We are not even free to seek justice in a court of law because the criminals have enslaved us with fear.

Some people still remember a Belize where children used to run through the streets playing chase, hide and seek, knock di pan, run over, bat and ricket and many more innocent games. Our children cannot play anymore! We have been forced to stay indoors. As a result, there is less interaction between neighbours and less unity in the community. Belizeans in the Diaspora still remember a Belize they couldn’t wait to get back to. Now, just having the guts to visit shows heroic patriotism. Less people are walking around selling bread and bun or opening panades shops. We are like animals in a zoo- caged in a beautiful place because a few individuals have shut down the city.

Some argue that the bill will be open to abuse. The same kinds of people that are being locked up for 48 hours now are the kind of people that will be potential subjects of the new preventative detention legislation. Those are gang members suspected of committing or planning to commit a crime. If all gang members fall under those categories then all gang members should be put away. To borrow and slightly alter a quote from Harvey Dent in the mega blockbuster hit “Dark Knight”, “Think of all you could do with (21 days) of clean streets.”

The Guardian


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