In an urgent call she said had nothing do with politics, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley this evening pressed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to “provide specific concrete measures” in response to Monday’s unprecedented shooting spree which occurred during the climax of Grand Kadooment on the Spring Garden Highway.
Describing the incident, which resulted in the death of 20-year-old Taried Rock and gunshot injuries to at least 18 other people, as an “uncharacteristic display of senseless and lethal violence” the Barbados Labour Party leader strongly hinted that Parliament should be recalled from its summer recess to deal with the matter.
“The time for action is now. We simply cannot afford any horrific incident,” she said, while extending sympathy to Rock’s family and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
Mottley however said it was “troubling” that Stuart, who is doubly charged with maintaining this island’s safety as Minister of Defence and National Security had failed to give comfort to Barbadians by not clearly outlining initiatives and resources for relevant institutions.
She also lamented a lack of action by members of Stuart’s Cabinet who she said had only been expressing their “views and desires” on the matter.
“In other words, what is the legislation that you will bring rather than have an Attorney General mull over the situation and options? What are the resources to be provided to a beleaguered police force? What measures will be put in place to modernize our justice system to ensure that people face the courts in quick order for crimes that are committed?”
Yesterday, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite vowed to introduce legislation to give the Royal Barbados Police Force additional powers to arrest the recent spate of gun violence, as he blamed the vexing problem on gang rivalry.
He also revealed that the Prime Minister was due to convene a meeting of the National Security Council.
However, Mottley today stressed that urgent action was critical with the hosting of CARIFESTA XIII just a week away and the island expected to attract hundreds of regional and international participants and guests.
She also expressed fears that Barbados’ enviable reputation as a place to live, work, and visit was at risk; so too the island’s two main money earning industries – tourism and the international business sector – as well as the livelihoods of scores, including taxi, watersports operators and vendors.
“This is why the Prime Minister must give leadership to this entire process. All of us as Barbadians stand to lose if the perception goes abroad that Barbados is no longer a safe place to live or visit,” she said.
While insisting that the political gloves were off, Mottley also underscored that her BLP stood ready to support any firm, fair and effective action to end the senseless violence that had claimed seven lives from 16 shooting incidents between May 1 and July 31 this year.
“Stray bullets do not care if someone is a Dem or a Bee, rich or poor, old or young. Anyone can become an innocent victim of indiscriminate behaviour. Barbadians must be able to go about their ordinary business without having to fear someone attacking or robbing them. That must be our simple but noble objective. It is to Barbadians that we owe this first duty,” she said.
The BLP leader also reached out to ordinary citizens, urging those with influence in their communities to persuade the youth to end this cycle of violence.
“There will be no happy endings for anyone involved if it continues to escalate unabated,” she warned, stressing the need for more programmes, jobs and opportunities for the island’s youth.