Belize declares State of Emergency in Cayo and southside Belize City

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Governor General Dame Froyla Tzalam of Belize, has declared a state of emergency in southside Belize City and specific sections of the Cayo District, due to criminal activity in the region. The Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams seconded this decision but said that this is not an admission of defeat by the police.

In his opinion, declaring a state of emergency allows law enforcement personnel to tackle the situation better.

While the state of emergency is not expected to last for more than one month, provisions have been made for extensions depending on the situation. To facilitate this, a resolution will be passed in the National Assembly if required.

These steps being taken by authorities in Belize can be accredited to a recent upsurge in gang violence which has left certain areas in a state of crisis.

Williams assured citizens that the state of emergency will not affect the rights and liberties of those who live in the affected areas as the authorities are focused solely on stabilizing the situation.

He also spoke of programmes which look to help young people find their way out of a life of crime and stated the following, “I have never heard the government being critical of it. I’ve heard that the SOE must be used as a measure of last resort. I don’t think that any reasonable Belizean would ever say that the government and the police are not doing enough.”

“We are doing interventions. They are given employment opportunity. So the truth is that the government and the police are trying but again, we all know that there are going to be those persons who will not want to live a peaceful life and may continue to live that violent lifestyle.”

He went on to say the following, “And so the SOE is geared at going after those persons. The amount of persons we expect to be detained from the SOE is not a huge number. It’s going to be a small number of persons because we just want to be able to pluck out the bad seeds.”

Williams reiterated that the human rights of individuals have not and will not be violated as the authorities look to curb gang activity through the aforementioned measures.

He also said, “Which rights is more important? The rights of 50 persons who hold the country, the city hostage? Or the rights of 50 people? Over 140,000 in a city or the rights of 400,000 people. We have to strike a balance and I’m sure that some human rights activists are going to agree that as a part of human rights, we have to look at the greater picture to see if we’re going to allow these people whose right we believe should be protected to continue to extinct themselves.”

“I think that if we allow the extinction to continue, then we will be in breach of human rights norms because we are seeing a trend and we just allow it to continue. The fact that we step in and do the SOE, so get them to have a pause and to rethink, I think goes in line with maintaining human rights norms.”

He also explained that the declaration of a state of emergency is not down to a failure on the part of the police but a failure of society. It has become common for average citizens to have relatives and friends involved in criminal activities, which speaks to the stark reality of life in Belize.

Williams said, “They’re raised in their respective homes and they turn out to be what many families do not desire them to have become, but that’s how they become. And so the police have to end up dealing with those persons. And yes, the country is huge. We all have a certain number of police officers. We can’t tag police to every criminal to make sure that we babysit them, that they don’t go and commit crime.”

He believes that the police have done a reasonable job of managing the situation in Belize in a peaceful manner and making citizens more comfortable in such difficult times.

Williams said that the police is dealing with a situation where by parents who condemn their children for being involved in criminal activities end up questioning the police when they decide to deal with them in accordance with the law and initiate criminal proceedings against them.

Ana Allen
Ana Allen
Anna Allen, news writer at Writeups24, is a Harvard graduate with a passion for journalism. With her keen eye for detail and insatiable curiosity, she captures the essence of global stories. Anna's writing informs and delves into cultural nuances. To reach Anna, you can email


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