PRAYER ALERT on police abuse. The US Department of State just issued its report on Belize’s human rights practices for 2016. It reserved its harshest criticism for police abuse. “The most important human rights abuses included the use of excessive force by security forces (especially the police),” the USDS said. “The government occasionally ignored reports of police abuse. It delayed action, failed to take disciplinary action, or transferred accused officers to other areas within their department.”
The USDS reported that 217 new complaints of police abuse came to the Ombudsman’s Office in 2016. But the police investigated only 41 percent of them. Most of the complaints originated in Belize City and cited the Gang Suppression Unit. (The police have promised to cut the GSU and make it less heavy-handed and more investigative.) But reports of abuse also came from all around the country.
The USDS highlighted the case of Edwin Ixpatac, 30, who died in the custody of the San Pedro police. More recently, on April 3 a Facebook video showed two San Pedro police officers pinning down and kicking an allegedly disorderly woman. When a crowd protested the police abuse, one officer pointed a shotgun at them and then fired at the ground in front of them. Five suffered injuries from the spray of projectiles.
But police suffer abuse too. Just this past March 26, a man came to the Raccoon police station and spoke to unarmed Police Constable Marvin Locke. They stepped outside and the man gave him a hug. Suddenly he began stabbing Locke, killing him before other policemen subdued him. We must pray that God will change more hearts as He has begun to do with Belize City gang leaders. Only the power of Jesus’ blood can cleanse the bloodguilt that is plaguing Belize.
PRAY WITH US. Father God, You so loved us despite our sin that You sent Your only Son. You allowed Him to be murdered that He might shed His blood for us. On this Easter weekend we remember the cross and the grace He poured out for all the world. This has power to cleanse all the bloodguilt of Belize. Thank You for beginning a good work on Belize City’s gang leaders. Only You could move such enemies to march together for peace. You have made them allies against the very crimes that they themselves have committed. Keep guiding them as they seek a way out of bondage to drugs and vicious cycles of murder. Send angelic help to guard that way. And raise up more police officers to apply the law righteously and not brutally. For You made the law to lead sinners to Christ.
Mobilize local church leaders to make a bridge for the truly repentant—the bridge of the cross. Help all gang members find in You a new life and a new community of believers. Turn them from warmongers into peacemakers. Use them as testimonies to transform their followers into Your followers. Receive the full reward of Your sacrifice for them. And beginning today, Easter Sunday, release greater waves of Your resurrection power to sweep multitudes of Belizeans into Your kingdom. The time is ripe, so prepare Your people for this great harvest. Most of all, glorify Yourself in Belize. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.
DailyInsight. Anger over one hurt can produce more hurt and anger in vicious cycles. Cry out mercy instead of revenge (See 1 Sam. 20:30-33).
BPN articles on police abuse.
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Report cites police abuse as worst violation of Belizean human rights.