Editorial: “Inconvenient Laws”

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Last week in Vol. 21 Issue 45 dated November 24th, The San Pedro Sun ran an article titled “SAGA Assists in the Enforcement of Laws for Stray and Nuisance Dogs.” Incredulously, while out and about this editor overheard comments that regarded our island humane society with disdain, commenting that they [SAGA] “can’t tell me what I do with my dog or how I do it.” This ignorance stems from the inability to understand what ENFORCEMENT OF LAW means.

SAGA, like other organizations such as the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary or citizens who lobby for citing trash offenders are simply working within laws that already exist in Belize. Contrary to what some may believe, these groups and individuals didn’t just make up the law to suit their personal agenda, these laws were mandated by the Government of Belize and the people of Belize are required to abide by them. The problem lies within the lack of enforcement, and once enforcement begins it often becomes a personal attack against those who are assisting in carrying it out.

One ill-informed person once told me that Belize is a country without law. What they and many don’t know is that Belize has many well thought-out laws that for one reason or another are not being enforced. Some may argue that due to the lack of funding our law enforcement personnel are limited, therefore resulting in prioritizing on more “critical” crimes. Others speculate that law enforcement personnel pick and choose which laws they care to enforce based on their own agenda or lack of interest. Others argue that A) the “people” don’t know the laws therefore they are unaware when they are breaking them; B) they are fully aware that they are breaking the law, they just don’t care or C) they break the law while taking advantage of the fact that there is no enforcement or legal ramifications.

Ironically many only seem to embrace the laws that suit them best and blatantly disregard the inconvenient ones or the ones they consider “unnecessary.” Regardless of your personal opinion of what is a good law or not, as a member of the Belizean society you are required to abide by Her laws. You cannot just pick and choose what laws you will respect and which ones you won’t. You can’t be a champion for law enforcement and then say, “What’s the harm in killing a few crocodiles”? You can’t be a champion for law enforcement while filling the neighbour’s yard with YOUR garbage. You can’t be a champion for law enforcement and still abuse or neglect your dog.

You do not need a law officer to tell you when you are breaking the law….but on the chance that you DO need to be reminded by those who are authorized to enforce the law, remember this, YOUR COUNTRY made the law and YOU are the one who is breaking it.

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