SOE imposed on Belize City

August 01, 2023 in Regional

Belize has declared a state of emergency (SOE) in the capital in a bid to curb the unabated gang warfare that has led to the murders of several people.

Home Affairs Minister, Kareem Musa, told a news conference following a weekend raid by police officers during which 25 people were detained, that the decision to impose the state of emergency was made towards the end of last week and that three areas have been placed under the SOE capturing the entire expansion area.

“The decision that was made, of course, was not an easy one, but it is of paramount importance that we provide safety and security for our law-abiding citizens and based on the intelligence that the police had been gathering, this decision had to be made for a state of emergency within this very limited area,” Musa said.

He told reporters that of the last four murders in the capital, he is “fairly certain we will have at least two charges if not three.

“Along with good police work and aided with the assistance of CCTV cameras, we are able to identify who these individuals are. We are able to make arrests. Those are the primary crime-fighting efforts.

“It is only if those efforts are failing, and it is for a very small group, as the commissioner said, 45, and we’re talking about potentially 1,000 at-risk youths that are out there. We have to look at crime as a public health crisis,” he added.

Police Commissioner Chester Williams said the SOE is not a blanket one where the authorities are “just picking up any and anybody from within those particular areas, but we do have a number of persons who are being targeted.

“And what we are doing is to pick them up based on intelligence and just pluck out those persons who our intelligence is telling us are creating the problems or have the potential of creating problems in those declared areas. We have so far detained …25 persons…and there are still a few persons we are looking for.”

Williams defended the SOE saying that “it is only prudent that when we have a situation where we have done our best to ensure that we try to find ways to work with these different groups like… and we have opportunities for them to get into different programmes and they refuse to…”

He said those persons continue to live a lifestyle where they continue to create fear in the lives of ordinary people and as a result, the government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the citizenry.

“ And while the SOE may be the measure of last resort, as the minister has said, but sometimes it is the necessary evil that we need to apply to ensure that we get these people to put a pause on their actions,” the top cop added.

Williams confirmed that some of those detained would be charged with murder.

“So, like the minister said, most of the murders we are having, we are making success in terms of detecting them and with what we have, we think that we can successfully prosecute them eventually, down the road.”