Yesterday we told you about a custody battle between a Guatemalan Father and Belizean Mother that landed in the hands of the Belize Family Court and the Department of Human Services. As we told you, Analiz Perez claims that on Friday evening, a social worker accompanied by a police officer arrived at her home on George Street claiming that they were there to take custody of her two year old daughter, Nina Perez. The intervention from Social Services was the outcome of a decision taken by relevant local authorities acting on a formal request made by their Guatemalan counterparts through Nina’s Guatemalan Father. The matter was filed under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction concerning the wrongful removal of this two-year-old Guatemalan child. The child was wrongfully removed and brought into Belize. Why wrongfully you ask? CEO in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation Judith Alpuche explained to the media that Analiz left Guatemala and returned to Belize with Nina, but failed to notify or receive consent from the father prior to her departure. The removal of the child from her mother was quickly shared on Social Media as “kidnapping” and quickly sparked what CEO Alpuche described as a “media frenzy” on the matter, painting a negative picture of the way the Department of Human Services operate. Also involved in the mix was the Social Worker whose picture and that of her daughter were plastered on Social Media. The Social Worker says Alpuche, was also threatened.
Judith Alpuche - CEO in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation
“I'm actually very appalled. Because the social worker and her family were threatened. Based on the information that was published on social media, this woman's picture and the picture of her child were placed on social media. She was vilified, her character defamed."
"The social worker?"
Judith Alpuche, CEO - Ministry of Human Development
"Yes, her picture was posted. The picture of her child was posted. She was threatened. I mean comments like "They hope she is found dead in ditch." Just incredible hateful things. It's disappointing to me as a Belizean. We live in a small society and I really would want to say that people have to really be reflecting on what they are doing. You sit behind a phone or a computer and you spew all this hate without all the information unjustifiably and I wonder if people think about the impact that it has. It is unfortunate. I mean this mom painted a picture on social media that serve her purposes. But I would really want to say to people, when you are being presented to information; there are many sides to a story."
Meanwhile, yesterday all parties except the father who is in Guatemala appeared before Family Court where unknown to them a preliminary hearing was being heard on the application of the Department of Human Services for an interim custody order in favor of the Department of Human Services over the child. The court granted the Department interim custody of the child for two months until the matter is resolved. When that period elapses, Analiz will return to court where they will decide whether the child is returned to her birth country or remains with her Mother in Belize.
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