Prime Minister Defends Minister Perez Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Prime Minister defends minister accused of sexual harassment, citing lack of evidence after investigation. Outcome could set precedent for handling such allegations in Belize.

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Safak Costu
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Prime Minister Defends Minister Perez Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Prime Minister Defends Minister Perez Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Prime Minister John Briceño has come to the defense of Minister of the Blue Economy Andre Perez, stating that an investigation found no laws were broken despite allegations of sexual harassment made by attorney Wendy Auxillou. Perez had taken a leave of absence in August 2023 while the investigation was conducted, but the Prime Minister said no evidence was provided to the Attorney General's office.

Auxillou claims she has evidence but has not filed an official police report . Perez denies all allegations and was reinstated as Minister of The Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management in April 2024. The Prime Minister maintained that there was no evidence of the minister offering inappropriate things to a woman, and the investigation did not uncover any wrongdoing.

Why this matters: The handling of sexual harassment allegations against high-ranking government officials has come under scrutiny in recent years. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how such allegations are investigated and addressed in the future.

Briceño emphasized that Perez had worked hard in his constituency, and that he and the mayor of San Pedro had won the municipal election by the largest margin in the town's history. "One could question the judgment of the Minister, but no evidence was presented during the investigation that spanned several months," the Prime Minister stated.

Despite being reinstated to his ministry, Perez lost his Civil Aviation portfolio to the Prime Minister. Auxillou, who charged Perez with rape and sexual harassment, has since left the country in self-exile without making a formal police report. The Prime Minister defended the return of Perez to the Cabinet, reiterating that the investigation concluded no laws were violated.

Key Takeaways

  • PM defends Minister Perez, says no laws broken in sexual harassment probe
  • Accuser Auxillou claims evidence but did not file police report
  • Perez reinstated as Minister, lost Civil Aviation portfolio to PM
  • Case could set precedent for investigating harassment allegations
  • PM cites Perez's electoral success, says no wrongdoing found