Democracy and rights
Abbreviated as BLZ by Abbreviationfinder, Belize is a functioning democracy where regular and fair elections are held and where freedom of the press and freedom of expression prevails, albeit with some restrictions. Corruption and high violent crime are serious problems.
Human rights are generally respected. Since 1999, there has been an ombudsman for human rights, but according to human rights organizations, the authority rarely follows up on the notifications it receives. Most often, the reports are about police abuse, violence against women and children and human trafficking.
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Belize is not included in Transparency International’s ranking of 180 countries based on corruption levels, but according to Freedom House, the political will to address the corruption problem is weak. No one has so far been brought to justice under a law that is intended to prevent corruption and has existed for over 20 years.
Many point to the fact that criminal gangs in the severely violent neighboring countries also reside in Belize to some extent. The murder rate is high. In September 2018, the government announced an emergency permit for 30 days in two areas in violence-affected parts of Belize City where gang violence has escalated.
Freedom of expression and media
According to Belize’s constitution, freedom of the press and opinion prevails. Exceptions are made to protect the national security, public order and social morality. It happens that journalists are exposed to threats and physical exertions.
Belize is ranked 53 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. It is a better location than other countries in both the Caribbean and Central America with the exception of Jamaica and Costa Rica, which are in 6th and 7th place respectively (the entire list is here).
Judicial system and legal security
The judiciary is considered to be independent of political influence. However, limited access to qualified judges, prosecutors and lawyers contributes to deficiencies in the rule of law. Among other things, there are many reports of police brutality.
The death penalty can be sentenced but no one has been executed since 1985 and in 2015 it was decided that the only remaining prisoner sentenced to death will not be executed.
The age of criminal justice was increased in 2005, from nine to twelve years.