The United States Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 has been released. Almost two hundred countries were evaluated for human rights issues. In respect of Belize, the report highlights numerous instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control. The worst abuse documented was the use of excessive force by security forces. In some cases the government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, both administratively and through the courts, but successful prosecutions were limited in number and tended to involve less severe infractions.
The government occasionally ignored reports of abuse, withheld action until the case had faded from the public’s attention, failed to take punitive action, or transferred accused officers to other districts. During the year the Belize Police Department’s Professional Standards Branch received two hundred and thirty eight formal complaints of alleged police misconduct.
During the same period, the department held fourteen officers on interdiction with half salary and one on suspension with salary. The fourteen officers on interdiction were alleged to have committed a combination of criminal and disciplinary charges. The ombudsman reported receiving ninety-nine complaints against the police department and its personnel, of which thirty-nine percent were categorized as complaints for brutality, eighteen percent as complaints of harassment, and seventeen percent as complaints for abuse of power.
The eighteen page report outlines other events that took place over 2011, including the detention of media personality Glenn Tillett, whom was detained without charges, for an offense allegedly committed by one of his relatives. Other human rights problems included lengthy pretrial detention, domestic violence, discrimination against women, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, discrimination based on sexual orientation, and child labor.