The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) today called for an immediate crackdown on illegal firearms, while warning that Barbadians were feeling under siege.
Former Attorney General Dale Marshall issued the urgent call in response to last night’s killing of 58-year-old Colleen Beresdean Payne of Lodge Hill, St Michael, who was attacked and shot by two men around 9 p.m. as she attempted to use an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at University Drive, Black Rock, St Michael.
Payne’s death brings to 18 the number of murders so far this year, compared to 21 for all of last year.
Warning that action needs to be urgently taken before another innocent life is taken, the Opposition spokesman appealed directly to “Government, and especially the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, to immediately set about prioritizing the fight against illegal firearms on our streets as many of the murders committed involved the use of these weapons.
“Our Parliament does not need another debate on law and order. What Barbados needs is action on the part of the Government. And we need it now, before another innocent life is taken,” Marshall said in a press statement, in which he also reiterated the Opposition’s support for “extraordinary” Government expenditure on tackling crime.
Over the past three weeks alone, there have been five homicides, with Payne’s being the latest in a worrying string of deadly crimes. It has come swiftly on the heels of July 13 murder of 48-year-old Kenrick Adolphus Spooner of #1 Pool land, St John, which occurred at Todds Land, St George.
Police are also investigating the double murder of 80-year-old Vincent Robinson and 49-year-old Tony Singh, which occurred at Prerogative House, St George sometime between July 1 and July 2.
Those killings followed closely on the heels of the June 28 execution-style killing of 44-year-old Jerome Bovell, who was gunned down mercilessly at Goddard’s Road, St Stephens Hill, Black Rock, St Michael.
With every homicide, Marshall warned that Barbadians were being robbed of the peace of mind, safety and the stability they have traditionally enjoyed.
“The fear of crime has now reached crippling proportions, so much so that Barbadians are feeling under siege and, increasingly, feel unable to go about this country to work and play as they choose,” the former Attorney General said.
“Peace and stability are also of significant economic value, since any gains made by any government will quickly be wiped out if we lose our reputation for being a safe place to live and to do business,” he added.
In a separate statement today, the Gender Affairs Committee of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) reacted with sadness to the latest murder.
President Makala Beckles-Jordan appealed to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to take swift action, while noting that the domestic rate of homicide grew from 6.4 per cent in 1980 to 10.1 per cent in 2010, and continues to grow yearly.
Beckles-Jordan said Barbados had become a tense society where jobs were few, money scarce and crime was on the rise, putting the lives of citizens at risk.
“No one should be fearful to go about their daily lives. More should be done to help curb the high level of violence in this country,” she stressed.