ComPol Williams hails Bukele’s fight on El Salvador’s gang problem
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has sent 2,000 soldiers and police to locate and arrest MS-13 gang members believed to be hiding in the country’s rural communities. The large-scale operation is the latest example of what Bukele’s critics say is his heavy-handed approach to tackling the country’s chronic gang issue. Bukele was granted extraordinary powers after gangs were blamed for 62 killings on March 26. His approach has garnered the attention of human rights organizations that are calling on Bukele to respect the rights and dignity of those being detained. Given Belize City’s ongoing issue with criminal gangs, yesterday, the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams was asked to weigh in on Bukele’s efforts and the possibility of Belize adopting a similar approach.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Certainly if you are a gang member you don’t deserve to live in ordinary people that’s the bottom line. But we have to understand that in Belize we have what is referred to as constitutional supremacy where the constitution is supreme not parliament and the constitution has guaranteed every person in Belize certain fundamental rights and freedom and so it cannot be that we act contrary to the constitution if not then we open ourselves for constitutional redress by those persons against whom we will act. Nonetheless the constitution does have within it means that can be employed by the government in order to address issues where we have people who are behaving in such a way and it is unable for us to get the evidence and charge them and take them before a court of law and that is where we have seen that we have exercised the provisions to have the SOE and have detained a number of person. But the truth is worldwide the whole gang problems is creating challenges for policing and that’s the reason why El Salvador resorted to what they are doing now because the conventional style of policing could not address the gang issue and so the president resorted to that. While it may sound good and everything certainly human rights issues are of concern and I believe that it is time for the human rights organization to stop look at individual human rights and begin to look more at the rights of humanity. Are we going to allow the rights of humanity to be murdered by individual human rights? I think that it needs to take a shift in terms of their focus.”