A Government legislator has suggested that a recent recommendation by Acting Attorney General Michael Lashley to combat the increasing rate of deadly gun crimes did not go far enough.
Lashley recommended this week that Barbados should follow the Trinidad and Tobago example and detain gun offenders for 100 days before they are even considered for bail.
However, speaking last night during a panel discussion on combatting crime and violence in communities here, Senator David Durand submitted that the authorities needed to be even tougher on the criminals.
“No bail should be given to those individuals accused of murder; none whatsoever. And I trust that the legislation will be changed to accommodate that,” Durant suggested to the audience gathered at his Apostle of the Restoration Ministries for the discussion, chaired by retired headteacher Matthew Farley. However, as a trade-off, he called for speedier trials.
The panel, which also included former Member of Parliament and social activist Hamilton Lashley; National Assistance Board Director Charyn Wilson, Government Senator Verla De Peiza; Senior Pastor at Messiah’s House, Reverend Paul Watson and the Criminal Justice Department’s Research and Planning Unit Director Cheryl Willoughby, also heard other controversial recommendations from Durant.
Among them was a proposal to keep the public away from the courts during certain trials, basing his argument on the behaviour of some onlookers during a recent arraignment.
“Recently a very annoying sight invaded our rooms via our television when a young man accused of murdering three men and wounding two was seen being greeted with cheers as he entered the courtyard by some people in the crowd, Durant complained, adding that this sort of behaviour sent the wrong signal.
“What kind of message are we sending? How do the relatives of those murdered and wounded feel seeing such jubilation
and no sense or remorse . . . knowing that their loved one is buried six feet beneath and the person is there jubilant and cheered on by people in the crowd in the court yard?
“We should stop the crowd from going into the court yard in cases of that nature . . . because it is not sending a proper message, not the right signal and it is annoying those relatives who are seeing it.”
Durant also slammed the United States for issuing a travel advisory on Barbados last month. He contended that it was
“unfortunate” because the advisory had been issued at a time when crime against tourists had dropped by nine per cent.
“So why you rush to hurriedly issue an advisory?
“Given the fact that the USA is a major player in our tourist industry, we cannot sit idly by and allow crime to destroy our main source of foreign exchange”.
However, Durant acknowledged that crime overall remains high and urged that Barbados be made safe, ‘not only for tourists but for Barbadians first’.