Belize to take action on gang violence

By Rumi Samuel Published on September 29, 2021
Belize to take action on gang violence

Belize intends to take action to stem the spread of gang violence in its communities and remove illegal guns off the streets.  

Prime Minister of Belize John Briceno addressed the issue of crime following the tragic shooting of 15-year-old Dwayne Gabourel.  

The student was shot while purchasing bread for his mother at a shop near his home in Belize City on September 25. He succumbed to his gunshot wounds on September 27. 

Briceno speaking on Gabourel’s death, says Belize is saddened and outraged.

" We have suffered too much at the hands of gang leaders and their surrogates who for more than two decades have terrorized and plagued our once peaceful communities in Belize City and the past 10 years all urban areas across the country. "

The prime minister says 26 people have died because of gang violence so far for 2021, and less than 500 gang members have been terrorising neighbourhoods and communities on the south side of Belize City.  

He believes gang violence has been plaguing because of a careless culture of silence and hopelessness, especially in poor and vulnerable communities.  

“The violence has to stop. The terror in these communities must end.” 

The prime minister says while no set of laws alone can end senseless violence, explicit immediate action is needed.  

Briceno says: If it means stricter enforcement by police, including instituting a more extended State of Emergency, then we must do so.  

If it means getting more police patrols on the streets, cameras, and better surveillance, then we will do so.”  

He notes it will take gang-infested communities to also say no more to guns and gang hangouts in their neighbourhoods and more action with social intervention programs, including jobs, free access to education, and a conscious effort to cut out the recruitment of children by gang affiliates.  

“If government must find ways to give incentives to people to provide information to get the guns off the streets and report predatory actions by gang leaders, then we will do so.  

If we have to strengthen laws and ordinances to allow police to go after potential gang leaders and gang runners, then we will do so.”  

Briceno says while the approach may be viewed as heavy-handed, he believes if such actions can save the life of one more youth, “then we must and will act.” 

The prime minister says he has instructed the Minister of Home Affairs and the Police Department that now is the time to use all necessary resources to save the children, communities, and Belize from senseless killings.  

Briceno says the senseless shooting of Dwayne Gabourel and the killing of five young persons so far for this year must be met with the full extent of the law so that those who commit these terrible crimes are brought to justice.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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