Belize is a constitutional parliamentary democracy governed by the Prime Minister, a cabinet of ministers, and a legislative assembly. The Governor General represented Queen Elizabeth II in the largely ceremonial role of Head of State. Prime Minister Said Musa's People's United Party (PUP) held 22 of the 29 seats in the House of Representatives following generally free and fair multiparty elections in March of 2003. The judiciary is independent.
The Police Department has primary responsibility for law enforcement and maintaining order. The Belize Defense Force (BDF) is responsible for external security but, when deemed appropriate by civilian authorities, may be tasked to assist the police department. Armed BDF soldiers routinely accompanied police patrols in Belize City in an attempt to reduce the violent crime rate. The police report to the Minister of Home Affairs, while the BDF report to the Minister of Defence. The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. Some members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.