Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 23:43:38 -0500 (CDT)
* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
Continuing human rights violations
International Secretariat of Amnesty International, News Service, Nr. 126, 5 July 2000
The government of Belize must take action to investigate and put an end to alleged human rights violations by police, Amnesty International said today releasing a comprehensive report on human rights in Belize.
"The problem of excessive use of force by police appears to be particularly serious in Belize City and in the areas near the Guatemalan border," the organization added. In 1999 local human rights organizations documented more than 30 cases of police brutality.
Torture by police is believed to have caused the death in custody of detainee Daniel Tillett in the Belize Police Headquarters in Belmopan on 21 September 1999. A post mortem examination revealed injuries -- including a ruptured liver and fractured skull -- suggesting severe ill-treatment in police custody.
Amnesty International is urging the authorities in Belize to investigate all reports of police brutality and torture, to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and to ensure that security forces comply at all times with international standards on the use of force.
Amnesty International's report also focusses on the extremely poor conditions in Belize's main detention centre, Hattieville Rehabilitation Centre.
There are reports of corporal punishment -- which is provided for in Belize's Prisons Rule -- being used in a recent incident against at least two inmates.
"Inflicting corporal punishment in prisons serves no justifiable penal purpose and has a brutalising effect on all involved," Amnesty International added. "Such practice flouts international standards on the treatment of prisoners and should be abolished."
"Belize's human rights record is also marred by the existence in its legal system of the death penalty," the organization said. Although no executions have been carried out since 1985, there are currently 10 people on death row in Belize. Three of them were sentenced in 1999.
"In line with the international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty Belize should refrain from imposing further death sentences and commute the outstanding ones with a view to eradicate completely this inherently cruel punishment." ENDS.../
Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom
You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting Amnesty International and this footer remain intact. Only the list subscription message may be removed.
To subscribe to amnesty-L, send a message to <email@example.com> with "subscribe amnesty-L" in the message body.
To unsubscribe, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with "unsubscribe amnesty-L" in the message body. If you have problem signing off, contact <owner-amnesty-L@oil.ca>. <owner-amnesty-L@oil.ca> handles only messages concerning list administration.
Past and current Amnesty news services can be found at <http://www.amnesty.org/news/>. Visit <http://www.amnesty.org> for information about Amnesty International and for other AI publications. Contact email@example.com if you need to get in touch with the International Secretariat of Amnesty International.