Customs and Immigration officers may soon be forced to undertake lie detector tests as part of Government’s offensive against the importation of illegal guns.
Without naming any of the departments, but convinced there are “some undesirables” in border control agencies, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite Thursday warned the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) and Barbados Coast Guard ought not be the only law enforcement agencies requiring their officers to take polygraph tests.
“At the risk of causing a national shutdown in Barbados tomorrow [Friday], let me say this also. We need to move to the state where all agencies that look after our borders have to go through the same integrity testing, or shall I say polygraph . . . as required by our marine unit, by our Coast Guard, by certain sections of the force if they want to serve in some sensitive positions. We really need to,” Brathwaite told a joint news conference with Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith.
Brathwaite’s reference to a national shutdown appeared to point to the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which in August 2015 expressed outrage at comments by Griffith that customs officials were either deliberately or unwittingly allowing illegal guns into the country.
“From an investigative view point, it is clear that there is an abundance of high calibre weapons and large quantities of available ammunition on the streets. What is also clear is that [those] weapons are not lawfully manufactured in Barbados and the wider region, so they are being smuggled into the island. Our intelligence suggests they are coming through legitimate ports of entry, either assisted by officials, or not detected by them at our borders. This is an untenable situation which has to be addressed if we are to stem the flow of these weapons,” Griffith had said at a news conference, provoking an angry NUPW to described the comment as “inflammatory and without basis”.
“If police intelligence suggests that these guns are coming through legitimate ports of entry, then officials should be identified and charged for this illegal activity,” the union had said in a statement.
“The union considers the commissioner’s statements to be inflammatory and without basis; and believe they only serve to tarnish the reputations and integrity of all customs officers.”
It was not immediately clear how the NUPW, currently involved in industrial action to press Government into compromising on the vexing National Social Responsibility Levy, will respond to the latest concerns raise by Brathwaite.
The country’s top legal adviser suggested the introduction of polygraph tests would help lift the lid of suspicion over the border control officers, adding that Barbadians need not become sensitive and feel that everyone inside the agencies was crooked.
“But without doubt – and we have all heard stories over the years – without doubt, there are some undesirables in almost every organization . . . and if you have the tools at your disposal to ensure that you are getting the best of the best, in particularly more sensitive areas, that’s what we should do,” he argued.
“What I will say, as part of the national security apparatus, that is one of the things I strongly recommend that we do as a country,” he added.
At Thursday’s news conference at which the two top law enforcement officials expressed concern about a spike in gun-related murders, Griffith called on Customs and Immigration to cooperate with the RBPF in addressing the influx of illegal guns.