U.S. Government and the Government of Belize Host Forum on Strengthening Belize’s Medicolegal Death Investigation System

U.S. Embassy Belmopan and the Government of Belize today hosted a high-level roundtable discussion on ways to improve Belize’s Medicolegal Death Investigation System (MLDI), which is responsible for conducting death investigations for all cases of sudden, unexpected, unexplained, suspicious, or violent deaths. The participants discussed the benefits of transitioning from Belize’s current coroner system to an established medical examiner system that would include board certification for Forensic Practitioners as well as better opportunities for continued training in Forensic Medicine and Forensic Pathology.

In addition to U.S. representatives, Government of Belize officials in attendance included Acting Chief Justice Hon. Michelle Arana, Attorney General Hon. Magali Marin-Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries Kevin L. Arthurs, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr. Deysi Mendez, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, Executive Director of the National Forensic Science Service Gian Cho, as well as Forensic Medical Examiners of the National Forensic Science Service.

In his remarks on behalf of the National Forensic Science Service, Mr. Cho stated, “The Medical Examiner’s Office of the National Forensic Science Service is responsible for assisting the Police in investigating around 25% of all reported deaths annually in Belize, which involves certifying the cause and manner of death in each of these cases. The focus currently is on strengthening the human resources of the National Forensic Science Service in this regard, with a view to consistently produce high quality, independent, accurate, timely and complete information in support of death investigations.”

In her remarks on behalf of U.S. Embassy Belmopan, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau Specialist Georgia Belezaire stated, “We hope that today’s discussion will move us one step closer towards standardized practices for the Medicolegal Death Investigation System.”

The discussion was facilitated by Dr. Roger Mitchell, the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington, DC. Dr. Mitchell highlighted the need to establish a cadre of locally certified Medical Examiners to support the existing MLDI system in Belize and articulated a strategy for ongoing training and certification of Belizean Medical Examiners.