Sparing the Killers of Belize

Charlotte McDonald tells the story of a campaign to fight the death penalty in Belize, and how the reformers’ struggle there has had far reaching consequences elsewhere

The former British colony of Belize is a tiny country that boasts rich Central American indigenous culture and a spectacular Caribbean coast. It also suffers a high rate of violent crime, and its one and only prison houses more than its fair share of murderers. The BBC’s Charlotte McDonald has gained rare access to the jail, and to inmates there who have faced capital punishment for their crimes – sometimes coming alarmingly close to being put to death. All have since been spared thanks to an ongoing legal campaign, led by a group of British lawyers. As this programme discovers, the reformists have not only saved lives in Central America, for their campaign has had consequences for prisoners throughout the world. Yet, enduring a rising murder rate and menacing gangs, many local people in Belize remain convinced that violent offenders should go to the gallows.

Producer: Mike Gallagher

(Image: Glenford Baptist was the last man on death row in Belize. His sentence has now been commuted to imprisonment)

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26 minutes

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