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Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries holds Open Day

FeaturesMinistry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries holds Open Day

Photo: L-R: Felicia Pinelo and Jessica Tate from the Special Patrol Unit

by Orlando Pulido

BELMOPAN, Wed. June 5, 2024

The Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries held an Open Day on Monday at the Belmopan Civic Center. Students from various parts of the country visited the various booths set up by the Belize Police Department. Several units on display were related to Cyber Security, Community Policing, the Canine Unit, and the Mobile Interdiction Team.

“We have the Leadership Intervention Unit. We also have the Belize Central Prison. We have the Belize Crime Observatory; so, like I mentioned, this is an excellent opportunity, not only for the different students within Belmopan, but for the wider public as well, as we speak to the different functions of our department. It is for them to gain insight into safety and security, as well as their rights,” said Ginee Neal, Staff Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Heider Ramirez explained to Amandala that the Act for the Cybercrime Unit was passed in October 2019. The unit usually deals with what is known as child pornography.

“When certain images or videos or anything is post [sic] through any social media platform, we are the unit responsible that deals with those things … so you could come at any given time where we secure the data. We also liaise with external parties like the INTERPOL [International Criminal Police Organization]. So, even if an offense was committed abroad and you make a report and you travel to Belize, you could still prosecute when you meet anything; so, if anything was published, like for example an audio, video image was published or transmitted [to] any smart device, we are the unit responsible to seize those devices and deal with the perpetrators at any given time,” said Heider Ramirez.

The National Forensic Science Service was represented at the event by its assistant director, Ashanti Guzman. This is a government agency, and has three units — the Scenes of Crime unit, the Forensic Laboratory, and the Medical Examiner’s Office. Guzman noted that the National Forensic Science Service is mandated under the law to provide forensic evidence for criminal investigations. Their whole purpose is to enable the conviction of the person who perpetrated the crime or to exonerate a wrongly accused person.

“Today, we are out here presenting to the students and the general public, and the services we provide in terms of forensic science—a strong message that science does not lie. We hope that the general public will put their confidence in us when we come to these services. Whether it be a minor traffic accident or a major scene as a murder, we try to provide our best; so, please do not interfere with the crime scene. We are here to provide the service; so, less tampering of the scene is better for us,” added Ashanti Guzman.

The content of a pamphlet from the Ministry of Home Affairs was centered on the need for cybersecurity awareness. Cybersecurity awareness is an ongoing process of educating and training persons about threats that lurk in cyberspace, how to prevent such threats by responsibly avoiding potential risks, and what to do in the event of a security incident.

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