With the turn of the new year seemingly bringing Barbadians no ease in their fears over gun violence, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is contending that the then Freundel Stuart administration was justified in its decision to increase the powers of the police.
Indeed, DLP president Verla De Peiza contends that despite strong opposition to the Amendments to the Police Act 2017 while in Opposition, the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) seemed to have now seen the light. De Peiza charged that not only had the Government back-peddled on its promise to repeal the controversial amendment but that they have already used the very statute to try to tackle the scourge of gun violence.
“The thing is that they threatened to repeal it but they have used it already in relations to recent operations in St Lucy following a murder there late last year. So clearly they are embracing it now. So I think that says it all about whether or not the legislation was justified,” De Peiza told Barbados TODAY this morning.
Former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite also told Barbados TODAY that prior talk of repealing the legislation “was a joke”.
“Obviously the legislation is justified otherwise we would not have brought it to Parliament in the first place,” he said.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts to reach Attorney General Dale Marshal and Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, to ascertain if Government still intended to follow through with campaign promises to repeal the legislation in question. However, up to the time of the E-publication, those calls went unanswered.
The main component of the amendment gives the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General the power to impose a two-day curfew on any geographical area within Barbados. This could be enforced if the Commissioner of Police considers that he “has received information or intelligence with regard to criminal activity in any area of Barbados, and it appears to him that due to the nature or extent of the criminal activity, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that in the interest of public safety, public order or for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, it is necessary to do so.”
The amendments were largely criticised by the BLP as a possible encroachment on the civil liberties of Barbadians as once under curfew, the police had the power to search premises, person and vehicles without a warrant. These powers are available to any police officer that has reasonable suspicion that any offence has been committed or is about to be committed.
This morning the DLP president argued that the Mia Mottley-led Government should not only use the Amendments to the Police Act 2017 but that they should revisit other plans that have yielded high success rates in tackling gun violence.
“It is true that measures may need to be tougher but we also have to go back to and do things that were working for us before. Things like community policing have produced good results for us before. Whenever the relationship with the police is better the crime rate goes down. We need to look at it from that angle because I remember years ago when the Pine was the hotspot, Government put a police outpost in that community and we saw results fairly quickly,” she explained.
Barbados has recorded two murders so far for the year that were gun-related. firstname.lastname@example.org