BELMOPAN, Mon. Aug. 3, 2020– In the House of Representatives in Belmopan today, the government declared that the State of Emergency (SOE) that is currently in place on the Southside of Belize City, and which is slated to expire on Thursday, August 6, 2020, will be extended for a further two months.
“We are satisfied that a period of public emergency persists in the Southside, and the House hereby extends the period of public emergency for a further period of 2 months. The motion has the recommendation of the Cabinet,” said Prime Minister Barrow.
And with those words, the State of Emergency for the City’s Southside had a new expiration date, on October 6, 2020, except if the government chooses to end it sooner.
In the House, the area representative for Freetown, Hon. Francis Fonseca, said that while he did not disapprove of the extended State of Emergency, he advised the government that people’s basic human rights should not be trampled on by police, and that police should be careful with their extended power during this time.
Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, at a press brief today, said that they have been engaged in enforcing the regulations and protocols that are in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and during this time, criminal elements are causing an additional challenge for police.
Williams is hoping that the extension of the SOE will ensure that the criminal elements and troublemakers who are presently on remand will remain on remand. With the SOE, the police have been given more power and authority than they have under normal circumstances to detain persons, carry out searches, and make arrests.
Commissioner Williams said that he wants peace in the city so that police can concentrate on the effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
He urges those who have been remanded as a part of the State of Emergency to take advantage of the programs that are conducted by the prison, and to attend anger management classes, and also conflict resolution classes, which, he believes, will help them when they are released.
The Commissioner said that the recommended extension to the State of Emergency is legal and the House of Representatives can approve extending the State of Emergency up to a year if the situation warrants it.