Belmopan, Belize: Belize’s justice system is being questioned for its efficacy as the majority of persons have been charged with a criminal offence, and no action was taken against them as they walked freely.
Whether it is for a minor offense like common assault or for more serious offenses such as Murder and Rape, the accused was given any punishment.
Notably, in the majority of criminal cases that happened in Belize, the defendant was neither convicted nor suffered any legal consequences or served any prison sentence.
Due to such acts, Belize’s criminal justice system is terribly broken, and it has been for many years now that nobody cares to fix it for the following reasons:
- In the majority of cases presented before the High Court of Belize, the eyewitnesses who inculpate the accused are often afraid or forced not to appear in court.
- By a far stretch, the essential form of evidence which is supposed to be used is the evidence of eyewitnesses, including the victims of crime and the complaints.
- The fear of these bystanders has a very damaging impact on the successful outcome of the cases. If an observer substantiates poorly, then the accused walks free, and justice is not served to the victims.
Sometimes, it is also noted that the eyewitnesses even go into hiding so as to avoid testifying or keep themselves out of the situation.
It is to be added to highlight that in some cases, ‘No eye witness means- No case.’ Therefore, there are so many possible ways in which watcher protection can be easily created in Belize.
In some instances, where the officials successfully secure the attendance of eyewitnesses by bench warrants or means of subpoenas, he/she chose to remain silent and presented themselves as if they had seen nothing.
One must understand the law in Belize in order to have a proper understanding of the importance of eye witness or watcher and should get a wider knowledge of Commonwealth Caribbean on this point.
With the proper cooperation of the bystander, a conviction would likely be ensured.
On very rare occasions, the Government of Belize has reluctantly forged ad hoc witness protection arrangements for only a few eyewitnesses at the request of the prosecutors.
It is to be noted that no more than 100 witnesses would perhaps be traded yearly as there is a need to fix this issue as soon as possible.
The few ‘lucky’ convictions which are not collapsed on appeal are to be greatly celebrated.