Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is not accusing the Customs Department of assisting in the importation of illegal weapons into the island.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Barbados Customs Brokers and Clerks Association (BCBCA) this morning, Brathwaite insisted that his earlier statements had been misunderstood.
“What I said that seems to [have] upset a few officers, is that we have an issue in Barbados in terms of illegal guns coming into the country, that the firearms are coming in either by air or by sea,” explained the Minister of Home Affairs as he delivered the feature address.
Brathwaite, however, contended that he was not accusing customs officials of being involved in arms smuggling, but rather encouraging them to get onboard in combating the problem.
“They [the firearms] are either coming through our ports or they are coming through other places across the coast of Barbados. If they are coming through the airport we need to do what is required to stem the flow, if they are coming through the Bridgetown Port . . . through Port St Charles, we need to do what is required to stem the flow,” he emphasized.
Brathwaite contended that it would take the combined efforts of all in identifying and solving the issue.
“All I am saying, is that we have an issue and we need all actors involved; the police . . . customs . . . the brokers involved, whoever can assist us in identifying how firearms are coming into the country so we can stem the flow.
“We need to get involved, so if individuals officers want to be upset with me for saying that, I really don’t care . . . because the facts are simple. They don’t drop out of the sky, they have to be coming from somewhere and we have a responsibility to ensure we protect more of our young people from dying at the hands of firearms,” the Attorney General insisted.
The Minister revealed that of the 31 murders which occurred last year, the majority of them were committed with firearms. “They [the firearms] are made outside of Barbados and they are brought into Barbados either legally or illegally . . . I will not back down from the fact that we need everyone involved in this fight including customs,” Brathwaite maintained. (KK)