Corruption and Mistrust within the Belize Police Force and Civil Service :
By: Wellington C. Ramos for the Caribbean New Yorker
When you have members of the Belize Police Force and some members of the Civil Service who are corrupt then the citizens of Belize will lose public trust and confidence in our government. Ministers of Government, Police Officers and Civil Servants are hired by the Government of Belize to enforce the laws, rules and regulations of our country with integrity and trust. They are being paid a salary by the government to carry out such duties without any additional reward or monies be given to them by the citizens of Belize. If a Minister of Government, Police Officer or Civil Servant ask any citizen for money or any other form of reward to repay him or her for any duty he or she is required by law to perform in the execution of his or her duties, he or she is guilty of the crime of Corruption or Extortion. When any form of pressure or duress is used by these individuals to obtain their rewards the crime becomes more serious and it is called Extortion. These crimes are clearly defined in the Criminal Laws of Belize and are there for the various Governmental Departments to use to bring legal action against there corrupt employees.
Even though most Belizeans are aware of the laws of the country, they tend to ignore them and become a part of this corruption culture. Studies that have been conducted over the years on this topic indicate that the lower the wages Civil Servants earn, the more vulnerable they are to commit the crimes of corruption and extortion. Sometimes, it is even more difficult to distinguish the difference between a reward and a bribe. Bribery is always seen as a form of corruption because in most cases it is used as the trigger to initiate the act of corruption. However, rewards are always given by people to show their form of appreciation to a person for doing something for them. Giving a person constant rewards over a period of time will arouse suspicion and could be deemed as bribery.
In Belize the Police Force is governed by the Police Ordinance which is Chapter-59. This ordinance governs all rules and regulations pertaining to the conduct of Police Officers in the carrying out and execution of their duties. As a former Police Officer, I am very familiar with this ordinance and used it on several occasions against Police Officers who broke the laws in order to maintain discipline. Recently, in Belize some members of the Police Force were caught at a place and at a time where they were not supposed to be. It is being alleged, that these Police Officers were engaged in the aiding and abetting of an aircraft that landed in Belizean territory without lawful permission to ship drugs through Belize. These are serious allegations that will involve extensive investigations over a period of time. The Government of Belize will be interested in knowing when did this type of activity begin? Who are the people who started this activity and in what capacity of the Belize Government do they serve? If they are serving the Belizean Government at the Ministerial level, they will have access to sensitive information and lower ranking Civil Servants might be afraid to cooperate with the investigation for fear of retaliation. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.) will be involved in this investigation and they will do their best to gather all the information they can.
From what I have been hearing from Belizeans in the country, these activities have been taking place for a long time now. Were these activities known and tolerated by the previous government that was in power for ten years? This is an important question to ask because there are several allegations going around that some high ranking Ministers in the previous government were involved in these types of illegal activities. We can even ask a more bigger question which is; How instrumental are criminals and drug dealers, in financing the political campaigns of political parties in Belize, the Caribbean and Latin America? Nobody is giving any person or group large amount of money without expecting something back in return.
Last year I wrote an article in the Caribbean Net News about the conduct of Police Officers in Belize when there were a series of bank robberies taking place in the country. The Commissioner of Police will now have to be careful of those officers within his organization that are working against him. This investigation is just a tip of the Iceberg and in the coming weeks there will be more revealing information that will be shocking to us. If the people you are trying to investigate are within your organization, they will do everything in their capacity to undermine the investigation or destroy the evidence you are gathering. Some people because of their greed will stop at nothing to engage in these activities to further enrich themselves at the expense of the poor citizens. The government must conduct a thorough investigation with the help of the United States Government to get to the bottom of this criminal organization. Caribbean New Yorker