Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is warning of the possibility of Barbados descending into violence if political parties do not control the actions of over-zealous supporters eager to cross the line.
Speaking in Parliament today, Sinckler also cautioned that unnamed persons, who he said had illegally recorded phone calls and Internet transmissions of public officials and private individuals during the tenure of the last Barbados Labour Party Government, were waiting “in the wings” for the call of elections to continue their “dastardly” acts.
Sinckler’ warnings came during his contribution to debate on the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2017, introduced by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, “to ensure that speciåfied provisions of the Act are applicable to the rules, regulations and orders
made in accordance with the Act”.
Sinckler spoke of persons in Barbados using modern communications applications such as Facebook and Instagram to abuse others. And noting that general elections were due shortly, he warned that, “violence will rear its ugly head in the coming campaign”.
He quickly qualified that statement by saying that such would happen only “if the people who are responsible for leading these political parties . . . do not make it abundantly clear to their supporters . . . that there is a line beyond which they should not cross”.
“I know what I am talking about,” he affirmed.
While the Member of Parliament for St Michael North West said that the violence could be provoked by “people on both ends of the spectrum . . . if you do not control them”, he was confident that his own leader would not allow such lack of control within the Democratic Labour Party.
“I know my Prime Minister has made it very clear what his position is,” Sinckler said.
However, he lamented that the situation on the island had deteriorating over the last few years to such an extent that persons were speaking about public officials needing to get a gunshot, and he warned that whether such ideas were uttered on the Internet or on the road, “somebody may feel empowered to go and carry out such an act . . . they believe that they can try a thing or test a fella and it is not going to be easy”.
Sinckler said there was an emerging trend in Barbados to misuse technology, explaining that there was someone who “every other week, takes up a computer, puts on it a recording of total lies, mischief innuendo, and even sex against people in Barbados”.
He said that this person is allowed to do it repeatedly, “and nobody intervenes to say anything to that individual”.
“I think the Commissioner of Police ought to be able to have prosecuted somebody by now.”
In introducing his Bill, Stuart had given an overview of happenings within the telecommunications sector and informed the House that Government would soon introduce legislation for intercepting certain electronic communications that the authorities may deem to have criminal connections.
As he supported this planned initiative, Sinckler pointed to what he said was illegal tapping of telephones of persons during the term of the last BLP Government.
The Minister of Finance however sought to make it clear that he was not accusing the former Owen Arthur-led regime of authorizing or knowing about the wiretapping because he said that even Arthur’s phone was bugged.
However, the senior Government official reported “that sometime between 2000 and 2009 personal telephones in Barbados and Internet communications … were intercepted under the last Government”, adding that there was an affidavit supporting his claim. The DLP assumed office in January, 2008, after defeating the Barbados Labour Party in the general election that year.
“I fear that the people who were sitting behind such a clandestine and wicked and dastardly attempt to bastardize the rights of Barbadians in Barbados, criminal attempts, are waiting in the wings to gather unto themselves the power to continue with their nefarious activities when the election is called.”
“I always felt my phone was tapped when I was talking to the then Leader of the Opposition and President of the Democratic Labour Party [David Thompson],” he said, adding that the phones and computer communications of many others were intercepted.
“There are files with those conversations being kept somewhere in somebody’s house. Those intercepted conversations and Internet email.
“When these matters are dispensed, a full and complete investigation ought to be done to find out who it is that was empowering certain people to tap phones in Barbados,” he added.