NCFC CONDEMS POLICE DEPARTMENT; CHESTER WILLIAMS RESPONDS

The National Committee for Families and Children issued a press release condemning the recent arrest of the 13 year old minor who was shot by police and later charged for allegedly being in possession of a firearm. Officers say that they shot the minor because he pointed a firearm in their direction. The incident made headlines on Monday and according to he NCFC, the Police Department is in violation of Section 2 and Section 9 subsection 2 of the Juvenile Offenders Act of Belize. According to that Act , a person under the age of 14 is considered a child. Section 9, subsection 2 states, and we quote ‘Where a child or young person is arrested, the police officer by whom he is arrested or the officer in charge of the police station to which he is brought shall, if the parent or guardian lives within a reasonable distance and can be found, cause him to be warned to attend at the court before which the child or young person will be brought”, end quote. The NCFC further stated and we quote, “under the CRC, children who come in conflict with the law, have the right to legal help and fair treatment in the justice system (Article 40). Where a family cannot financially afford legal assistance, these services can be accessed from the Legal Aid and Services Centre. ” The NCFC ended their release by calling on the justice system to ensure that the rights of all children are adhered to. They also called on the police department to conduct an urgent and thorough investigation into this case, given the differing views of the family and police officers. Finally the Committee called on the social services departments to provide suitable rehabilitative support for the child. Well late this evening, ACP Chester Williams responded to the release made by the Committee. Williams opened his response by saying he is in full agreement with the legal pronouncements made in the NCFC press release. He further stated, and we quote “while we regret the situation involving the child in question, the police by law do have a right to protect themselves and another other person from harm… As is expected the father would not accept what the child had allegedly did and as such he refused to cooperate with the police… The Belize Police Department will continue to do our best when it comes to dealing with our citizenry and especially our children, we are prepared to join forces with NCFC to develop a plan to address the issue of children who are involved in gangs and other criminal activities” end quote.

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