BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 27, 2020– For weeks, the communities of Santa Marta, Guinea Grass and Shipyard of the Orange Walk District, as well as the entire town of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, have been under a strict lockdown due to the spike of COVID-19 cases originating in these areas.
With the passing of Statutory Instrument No. 122 of 2020, however, these areas, with the exception of San Pedro, are no longer under complete lockdown after weeks of laments by the residents in these areas of the hardships they were experiencing as a result of being cut off from the rest of the country. Those residents, particularly Guinea Grass villagers, had complained that they were not able to get the supplies they needed and to access funds from their respective financial institutions, and they had begged the GOB to reconsider the lockdown.
The amendment, according to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, also features a new regulation that addresses acts of bribery.
This new regulation, known as Regulation 34A, states that “any person who bribes or attempts to bribe a member of the security forces or any public officer charged with duties under the principal regulations commits an offense.”
Regulation 34A further states that, “Any member of the security forces or any other public officer who, under the cover of his office, demands or obtains from any person, whether for public purposes or for himself or any other person, any money or valuable consideration which he knows that he is not lawfully authorized to demand or obtain, or at a time at which he knows that he is not lawfully authorized to demand, commits an offence.”
Under this amendment, any person caught in the act of breaking the aforementioned regulation is now liable to imprisonment for at least one year.
This piece of legislation was prompted by recent incidents involving public officers who have taken part in, and facilitated border-jumping in return for payment and for personal purposes, as well as acts of extortion by police.
The most recent of these instances was reported on Monday, August 24, 2020, when Constable Jonathan Cal and his wife were caught in the act of smuggling a border-jumper into Punta Gorda; the border-jumper is said to be Cal’s sister-in-law.
S.I. 122 of 2020 came into effect on August 26, 2020. At this time, it is still undetermined when the lockdown in San Pedro will be lifted.