Earlier this week, Russell Roberts, came to our studios to voice his concerns over existing gun laws saying there is an urgent need to revisit them. Russell is upset because he says police intervention has helped some persons to avoid charges. He alleges that this is what happened in the case of GST Supervisor, Reynaldo Verde, who was not charged even though an unlicensed firearm was found at his house. It makes justice ineffective, says Roberts, because as it is, the law stipulates that any person found with an unlicensed firearm should be charged, arraigned and remanded until bail can be secured or proven innocent by the courts. Well, since coming to the media last week, Roberts says that he has been approached by many others who have been afflicted by the gun law. And that has pushed him to take his fight against the strict laws.
Russell Roberts, Activist
“One case in particular took my attention was the case with Mister Verde…that’s the one that brought me out because watching the news for all these years I see him in and out of the news—two attempted murder charge and now an illegal firearm charge. He has been able to use the system to his benefit. All Belizeans don’t have this privilege. We don’t have connections in higher places and we are left and dashed aside; no one to help us. Mister Barrow said once that he is the talisman of the poor. I think it is high time that he looks towards the poor and hear their cry because definitely many innocent are going to jail. Even the financing; you have to find fifteen hundred dollars for a lawyer to secure bail at supreme court. It is not every Belizean that could afford something like that. it is very hard for the poor so we need the government to recognize the cry of the poor and look at this law—either apply it across the board or revise it so that innocent could stay free.”
Nedal “Jihad” McLaren
Nedal “Jihad” McLaren, Activist
“I think that the two senior officers who intervened in such a case should answer not only to the ComPol but also to the commission that disciplines them because I think personally they ought to be disciplined. The police are now saying that the file is at the D.P.P.—this one that is for Mister Reynaldo Verde—they are now saying that it is there. But the problem now is that the D.P.P. cannot prosecute you if the evidence that is within the file does not require any charge. So we don’t know what the police wrote…maybe they wrote that same footprint, somebody plant it on you. But we don’t know what the police wrote. But in many cases, the D.P.P. should be involved and has not been involved.”
“I heard that they asked the commissioner, the officer in charge in San Pedro wrote to the Commissioner, to let him be stripped of his license and he still has his license. So what is the problem? Who is he? That’s the million dollar question: who is he and we need to look into that and many other cases whereby it is just brushed under the rug.”