The United States Bureau of Democracy, human rights and labour yesterday issued their Country Report on Human rights practices in Belize.
Now, we've been in the news long enough to take the moralizing of the great imperium with a sack of salt. And, with that on his shoulder, Jules Vasquez thought it was worth a look:
The 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices from the BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR declares boldly at the opening:
"Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: abuse and inhuman treatment by security and prison officers; arbitrary arrest and detentions; refoulement of refugees to a country where they would face threats to their lives and freedom; serious corruption by government officials; and substantial barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services."
It adds, "The government took steps to prosecute some public officials who committed abuses, but there were few successful prosecutions. The government did not effectively implement the laws on corruption, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity."
That's a lot to allege, but the report doesn't put a whole lot of meat on the bone.
Under human rights abuses, the report points to, quote, "reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings," and cites one well known case, that of detainee Derrick Uh, who was locked in a prisoner van, and forgotten there, leading to his cruel death from heat stroke.
The report also cites the case of Allyson Major - who was shot to death by police. The report notes that the prosecution "failed to provide the court with forensic evidence establishing the relationship between the police-issued firearm and the bullet fragments extracted from Major's body."
Turning to Freedom of Expression, especially for the press, the report notes the incident one year ago when Channel 7's Cherisse Halsall was forcibly ejected from the CARICOM- SICA Summit. The report notes that access was denied to certain local media houses to access certain areas at the major regional event.
Under "Protection of Refugees" - the report notes, quote, "government repatriated Cuban nationals who claimed their lives or freedom would be threatened due to their opposition to the government. Belize and Cuba have an agreement that requires Belize to return to Cuba all irregular immigrants with Cuban citizenship."
And, then under "Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government" - the report recounts the fiasco with Marco Vidal's COST Strike Team - members of which were accused of being involved in drug plane landings.
The report also notes the arrest of former UDP Minister of Works Rene Montero for "willful oppression" under the allegation that he used human resources and government property to develop his private property.
Far from a smoking gun or compelling new information of current corruption, but it forms the highlight of an anticlimactic report.
The full report is available online.