The Belize government is expressing concern at the hike in murders here in recent days praising law enforcement officials for helping to keep a lid on violent crimes.
At least five people were killed in the last ten days, and Home Affairs Minister Kareem Musa told reporters that Belize is not singular in recording increased murders over the past few weeks.
“It terrifies the world we live in today and is certainly not just limited to Belize. You look across the region; Jamaica faces extreme violent crimes in their society, Salvador, and other parts of Central America. So, there is this sort of uptick worldwide in crime, even in the great United States.
“So, it very concerning when it comes to young people, the young man that lost his life the other day. I want to extend my condolences to him and the other individuals who lost their lives over the past ten days,” Musa said.
He told reporters that for August and September, “we had a relatively low violent crime situation in Belize (and) we are thankful for that.
“We are thankful for the police department and the hard work they put in over the September Celebrations,” Musa said, adding, “however, we are of course concerned with these latest murders; these are out district, the last five in the previous ten days. And those are a little easier to solve.
“I think out of the five murders; we have four suspects that we are looking at. One has already been charged…we do have other suspects detained. From a policy standpoint, that is what is important to us to be able to solve these crimes.”
Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow in a statement posted on social media, called for Musa’s resignation as a result of the increase in murders.
“If he can’t do the job of keeping our country safe, he should resign and focus on his marijuana enterprise,” Barrow wrote.
But Musa dismissed Barrow’s call, saying crime is not “everybody’s business.
“It is almost every week they call on that, and I wish they would understand that crime is not a police issue. Crime is everybody’s issue. It starts with our very young children and our families and upbringing. It begins with what we are doing now as a government to get free education on the south side of Belize City and hopefully expand that.
“At the end of the day, education is one of the great equalizers in ensuring we have a crime-free country, so there are different strategies in place,” he said, adding that the authorities have implemented and put in place “so many different things in place that are preserving a relatively crime-free year.
Musa recalled that under the opposition in 2012, the country recorded 148 murders that year.
“So, what you have now is more highlighting of the crime by the media. And that is something positive because it forces us to do our work. It forces us to be answerable to the public. And that is something good because we can’t just hide whenever a crime is happening.
“So, I take that duty upon myself, and I am sure the Commissioner of Police does as well, that we have to look at every life lost in this country as an important life,” Musa said.
Official figures released by the Belize Crime Observatory in June showed that there were 384 major crimes, including murder, burglary, robbery, and rape, as compared to 3or the same period last year.