The Central American Region now has one of the highest crime rates in the World, and Belize is included in that frightening reality. So it's no surprise that the government of Belize has partnered with the International Peace Building Alliance (Interpeace), SICA, and the United Nations Population Fund in drafting proposals at the National level that will address the prevention of violence amongst youths.
As part of the efforts to arrive at a national strategy, representatives from the criminal and juvenile justice system have been participating in a series of workshops including one that was held today at the Radisson Hotel.
Wendy Cuellar, Program Coordinator for Interpeace, says the formulation of the policy is framed within a larger regional project called "Development of Regional initiatives and Policies Benefiting Youth at Social risk and in conflict with the Law". That's a big name for an ambitious policy and she told us more:..
Wendy Cuellar, Program Coordinator for Interpeace
"This is the last workshop that we have in process to create a public policy regarding the violence, violence related to the youth
population, so we have been proposing a process that includes a consultation with youth, civil society, governmental institutions, most media and others. So we get all this information together, we will also do a research of what is the situation the youth population is facing in Belize and we create diagnostic with that and after that we will have a proposal of solutions - what the government and the others have to do to get a better situation regarding violence."
"This is a regional project, so we are working together with several countries including Belize. Here so far we have been consulting the youth population, the state, the actors that I just mention and basically what they find is first the youth needs opportunities; they ask for participation spaces to prevent violence, they want open spaces, they want spaces for recreation, they want the justice to be more open and more considerate to them, they want the judicial and also the penitentiary - they have good examples of understanding justice but still they need a lot of improvements."
The project is being implemented in four Central American countries including Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama through the financial support of the Italian Development Cooperation.