I was horrified and saddened to learn that a prominent Belize City attorney of my acquaintance, Rodwell Williams, S.C, was ambushed and gunned down in a Belize City parking lot near his law office at 8 pm on Monday, May 31.
Two Belize City men were charged with the assault, Ricky Valencia, 27, and Akeem Thurton, 18. The attack is widely rumored to have been a “contract hit” paid for by a Belize City businessman recently defeated in court by Mr. Williams.
Mr. Williams was initially treated at a Belize City hospital for a single shotgun blast to the abdomen, and was later transferred to a Miami, Florida hospital where he is recovering.
Mr. Williams, Senior Counsel and law partner of Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow, had been previously attacked on April 15, when a “projectile” was fired through the windows of the Barrow & Williams law office at 99 Albert Street in Belize City.
This latest armed assault is just one of more than 100 reported shootings in Belize City this year, where the death toll climbed to 30 as of August, 2010. According to The Economist, as reported on Belize’s Channel 5 News, “Belize is the world’s murder hotspot”, with a 2009 death rate of 32.7 per 100,000 persons country-wide.
The Campaign to Stop Human Trafficking in Belize confirms that relative to its size and population, Belize outranks all nations in murder. “The latest statistics show Belize with 97 murders for a population of 320,000. To put that into perspective, metro Toronto has 41 murders for the same period, but for a population of 2.4 million people.”
While violent crime statistics are higher in Belize City than in the rest of the country, crime throughout Belize has steadily risen over the past two years, says the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
“Major crimes in Belize (murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft) increased in 2008 by 8.1 percent from 2007. The murder rate within Belize has continued to increase on an annual basis by five percent since 2003; the number of murders in 2008 (103 homicides) has now more than doubled those reported in 2000 (47 homicides) and represents a nationwide murder rate of 34 per 100,000 persons.”
Rodwell Williams Shot, Amandala, June 1, 2010
Rodwell Williams SC shot in street attack, The [Belize] Reporter, June 4, 2010
Two charged in shooting of Attorney Rodwell Williams, The Guardian, June 10, 2010
Belize is world murder capital, Belize Channel 5 News, September 7, 2009
Canadians Boycott Belize Tourism, Murder Capital of the World, Betty Phillips, July 23, 2010
Belize 2009 Crime & Safety Report, Overseas Security Advisory Council, August 17, 2009