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Parliament Passes Draconian New Anti Gang Laws #529612
03/29/18 05:38 AM
03/29/18 05:38 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,953
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Last night, we took you inside the Senate's budget debate in Belmopan - or a portion of it - since the debate went for almost 12 hours.

But after the budget, the Senate debated the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Amendment Bill, which is one of the police department's latest get-tough-on-crime initiatives.

Last month, The Ministry of Home Affairs unveiled the department's National Crime Fighting Strategy 2018-2020. It's a comprehensive set of changes that police want to make, to counter crime and violence, specifically gang related crimes.

One of the legislative changes that would come under the Crime Fighting Strategy was laws to target the culture of gangs in Belize, and Belize City specifically.

Well, we've seen the final draft of the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Amendment Bill, and the Government and law enforcement authorities are not joking.

One section of the amendment says, quote, "A person who is a gang member, or in order to gain unlawful benefit, professes to be a gang member…commits an offense… and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years." End quote.

Any subsequent convictions on indictment can land an accused gang member in jail for up to 25 years.

For accused gang leaders, the amendment applies stiffer penalties on summary conviction - meaning at the Magistrate's Court level - a person accused of being a gang leader can be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison. A second conviction on indictment can land a convicted gang leader in jail for up to 40 years.

Shooting at the cops, or any other law enforcement arm, is now a far more serious offense. The amendment says, "A gang member who intentionally, by any means necessary, wounds or causes grievous bodily harm, or shoots at with intent to do some grievous bodily harm, a police officer, a prison officer, a member of the Belize Defense Force, a member of the Belize Coast Guard, an Income Tax officer….commits an offense, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty years."

Then, there are the changes to law in the treatment of persons deemed as sympathizers of gangs or gang members.

Any person, whether or not he or she is a gang member, carries out a gang related activity at the direction of any gang leader, knowingly assists, aids or abets any gang leader, assists in the concealment of gang activity, commits an offense and is liable on conviction at the Supreme Court to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Harbouring a gang member is also a serious offense that can get you sent to jail for 5 years.

There are a number of other changes to the law, but you get the point.

We are told that this the Crime Control and Criminal bill passed last night by the Senate in a vote of 8 in favor - including the government side, business and the church, 4 opposition against, and 1 abstention.

Channel 7

Re: Parliament Passes Draconian New Anti Gang Laws [Re: Marty] #529628
03/30/18 06:04 AM
03/30/18 06:04 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,953
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Get-Tough Crime Laws Has Provision For Witness Protection

Last night, we showed you the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Senate on Tuesday Night. These were included as part of a raft of new touch anti - crime legislation. Tonight, we take look at 3 more amendments which fall under the Police's National Crime Fighting Strategy 2018-2020. The first is the Protection of Witnesses Act of 2018. Regularly, we report on criminal trials that fall apart because of witnesses who refuse to cooperate, fearing for their own lives.

Well, this new law allows a Magistrate to grant an order prohibiting the disclosure of the identities of persons who are, or are willing to assist in a specified qualifying criminal investigation. An Application for this type of order can be made to the Chief Magistrate by the Commissioner of Police or the Director of Public Prosecution. Weeks ago, Commissioner Whylie said that the law applies to cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, robbery, attempted robbery, rape and a attempted rape.

The DPP's Office can also apply for a Witness Anonymity Order granted so that the identity of key witnesses for the prosecution can be withheld in criminal trials.

Prosecution witnesses may be allowed to testify in case via live television link, or some streaming broadcast platform. That testimony will be admitted in evidence as if the person giving it is present in court. Tape recordings of testimonies can also be admitted as evidence against an accused.

And, the police and government aren't stopping there. At the end of Tuesday's Senate Meeting, the Firearms Amendment Bill was also passed.

The amendments bring stricter gun control, and it expands the categories of possible gun license holders.

There are also a new set of penalties for breaking the Firearms Amendment bill, which now becomes law.

There are now criminal offenses targeted at illegal arms dealers, or persons who have more than 2 illegal weapons in their possession.

Any person who is caught being in possession of more than 2 illegal firearms, or any person who unlawfully imports, exports, acquires, sells, delivers, moves or transfers an illegal firearm, ammunition, or any related materials in or out of Belize is guilty of illicit firearm trafficking. On indictment, convicted persons can be sent to jail for a term of 10 years.

Licensed gun holders also have to be a lot more careful.

If you are a licensed weapon holder, you cannot keep ammunition in excess of the amount prescribed by your license. You also cannot leave your licensed weapon or ammunition in the care of someone who is not authorized by the gun license. Any of these actions are now illegal offenses that can land you in jail for 3 months or a sentence to pay a fine of $500.

Anybody who is in possession of a firearm for which the serial number of the weapon is removed or tampered with is in violation of the new law. The penalty for conviction under this part of the law is a fine of not less than $5,000, but it can go all the way up to $10,000. In default, that convicted person can be sent to jail for a term of 2 to 5 years.

The Police Act also has an amendment bill that was passed at the most recent Senate Meeting. It now adds on an extended list of disciplinary offenses against police officers that the original act did not contemplate.

Channel 7

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