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Belize Background

Belize is a young, multi-ethnic and economically open nation. The country is also relatively wealthier than its neighbors, thanks in part to its healthy tourism industry. However, Belize has not managed to escape the challenges that confront much of the rest of Latin America. It is continuously plagued by violence, crime and corruption. This is primarily due to the country’s strategic location on the Caribbean coast between Colombia, Mexico and the United States; its borders with Guatemala and Mexico; a long, unprotected coastline; innumerable unprotected islands and waterways; and a weak rule of law. Violent crime, money laundering and drug trafficking continue unabated in part due to insufficient countermeasures and government corruption.

The scourge of drugs and transnational crime has heavily contributed to the rising crime rate and social decline in Belize. The well-being of family units and juveniles is further threatened by the spread of illicit drug use and addiction. These surging rates of serious crime and the continued prevalence of transnational crime represent serious challenges to the country’s justice sector.

Other challenges also confront the country. Limited cooperation between the Judicial Investigation Bureau and the National Police constrains efficiency. Both novice and veteran justice operators lack sufficient orientation in their proper functions and respective roles. Therefore, training of judges, lawyers, prosecutors and police is critical to the success of these reforms.