Preventative detention was a thing 10 years ago Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00

Back in 2008, one of the first things that the new government headed by first time Prime Minister Hon Dean Barrow did was to do something about the high murder rate and other violent crimes. The first thing they proposed was to bring in a special prosecutor from Jamaica, who would help to improve on the very low conviction rate, when it came to cases of murder and other violent crimes. That was coupled with the idea of bringing a former Jamaican Superintendent, Mr Harold Crooks, to work as a special advisor to the Police Department. The other response was to come from the legislature. At the first business session of the National Assembly on the 25th April, the Prime Minister indicated that he would introduce certain constitutional amendments calling for preventative detention and wire-tapping. In terms of telephone interception that the police wouldn’t have been listening to the phone calls of law-abiding citizens. The tools of trying to intercept telephone calls would only be employed against the known criminal players. The other part was a kind of preventative detention to take place.

We understand that the cabinet was fully on board, and so were many right-thinking Belizeans, who did not have any political axe to grind and were not trying to score any political points at the expense of people’s lives. The PM at the time said that the government did not imagine that it would have been a problem because of all that was happening in the country when it came to violent crimes. He said that the assault on our society was the cause for radical measures to be taken. The government knew that the measures were extreme and, because they involve constitutional changes, one of those changes being PREVENTATIVE DETENTION, was calling for a 90 days cooling-off period whereby persons could be taken out of circulation and held for up to the aforementioned 90 days. There had to be a waiting period to give the general populace adequate time to debate and ponder over the proposals in order to get some sort of feedback from the public, whether they were in agreement with those extreme measures. In the end after much opposition from the public and other special interest groups the preventative detention part of the proposed amendment was withdrawn three years later in 2011.

What we are now experiencing, may have been avoided, perhaps if those opponents of preventative detention had allowed it to happen. There are other factors that may be contributing to the situation that we now find ourselves in. One is the dereliction of duty by the families, churches, NGO’S and the community in general. Very often we see our young children becoming bullies, and doing all sorts of mischievous acts, and breaking the laws, but rather than showing them though love by reporting them to the relevant authorities, we shield and protect them. These same children turn into those same monsters who are committing these murders and other crimes. There are also some of us who glorify their exploits through social media. We give them a forum to highlight their deviant behaviour. Then we are always blaming everyone else but ourselves, never stopping to think that we are partly to blame too. However, we prefer to blame others, because in doing that, we don’t have to admit we’ve been failures as parents

The road to stem and reverse this situation, will be a long and bumpy one, and we all have to do our part to make sure that it is accomplished. There is no room or time for slackers. All of us must do our part or things will only get worse. No burglar bars, guard dogs, surveillance cameras, security guards or police will help us at that time if we don’t put in our personal effort to fight crime and violence against our society. The choice is clear. The violence is not just affecting our neighbour or our friends or even our perceived enemies. It is affecting all of us even if we don’t see it. Crime is all of our business. It may have not visited our door yet, but more than likely it will if we don’t do our part to fight crime. Perhaps we may have seen or heard something that could either solve a crime or prevent a crime from occurring. The action we take is important in fighting crime. Let us all make an effort to do our duty and fight against crime.