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CariSECURE in Belize to tackle the crime problem in the Caribbean Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 March 2017 00:00

On Monday March 27, 2017, the CariSECURE along with USAID and the UNDP held a tour opening ceremony and luncheon at the Princess Ramada Hotel. A group of delegates from within the southern and eastern Caribbean had the pleasure of visiting Belize under the primary objectives of observing crime and data management.

Persons that spoke at the event were Juliet Solomon, UNDP Barbados and the OECS; Karen Bernard, UNDP Belize; Nathan Bland, from the U.S. Embassy, and the Hon. Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Solomon, who also acts as a team leader and Citizen Security Specialist, described some of the objectives and issues to be addressed including the presence of youth violence and crime within the southern and eastern Caribbean states, including Belize. She highlighted the benefits of the participation by the delegates in the program. As part of the activities, the delegates will have the opportunity to visit the crime observatory in Belize as well as the police department and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution. Their intentions are to enhance their knowledge of citizen security and data management, to learn peer challenges, and to disseminate their experiences to their respective countries.

In her address Karen Bernard shared some of the same sentiments as Solomon. The success of the crime observatory in Belize has been noticed and has been attributed to making the Caribbean a safer environment. According to UNDP human development reports, about 20 persons are directly affected by crime in every 100,000. In Belize that number goes as high as 39 to every 100,000. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 40% of those surveyed have reported to feel “unsafe”.  According to Bernard, the Belizean crime observatory tracks and interprets data to better address the challenges and vulnerabilities: gang infiltration and affiliation, gun violence, and others. The Government of Belize was applauded for its efforts in this regard. USAID was thanked for being instrumental in the funding of the initiative. Bernard put special attention on evidence based and gender policy and its importance to be made relevant. While she admitted that there is a lot to be learned from Belize’s example, there is much progress to be made.

Bland mentioned the international study hosts of the UNDP and the Ministry of Home Affairs in their efforts to enhance citizen security and effective government. The embassy works closely with the GOB to prevent crime. The US also intervened by granting US $40 million to promote citizen security, minimize youth crime, and benefit the police department and related organizations such as the Customs Department, border control, and other related offices. There has also been an investment in data systems, CIMS and COMSTAT, and social media such as the police department’s use of WhatsApp to track and report crime in real-time.

Minister Aragon Jr. brought the audience up to speed on the progress and efforts specific to Belize. He recalls working with the police department not too long ago without the systems and funding they have now put to use. The department was commended on the developments made and their exertion to combat crime given their new systems, schemes, and financial support. One such system is the IBIS system, courtesy of Canada’s efforts. IBIS has since been put to good use. One of its primary uses is to gather more accurate evidence as it relates to gun related crime. The minister was more than happy that Belize was chosen to be a part of and to host the Belize Crime Observatory ceremony and tour. He urged the delegates to visit and tour the country outside of the crime observatory system. He seemed eager to submerge himself and his ministry in the collective sharing of insight among the participating states.