The Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labor Party administration is failing miserably on the issue of crime and violence, according to President of the African Heritage Foundation, Paul Rock.
In a statement, the foundation scoffed at fresh commitments by soldiers and police to arrest the situation, following a worrying spate of murders in January.
Last Friday evening, Prime Minister Mottley assured Barbadians that police officers would be working on off days and soldiers would be placed on the street as part of efforts to arrest the unprecedented crime situation.
However, Rock argued that the root causes of the problems were not being addressed.
“Police giving up off days and soldiers on the street! What will this accomplish exactly? If you don’t address root causes of anything you are moving on a treadmill of ignorance. Can the Prime Minister tell us the root causes of gun violence in our streets? We really hope she does not say guns. A gun has no power unless fired. We should be looking at what is causing the people to fire!” he charged, before taking aim at the education system and the controversial common entrance exam,” charged Rock, who identified the structure of the country’s school system as a major factor.
“To help curb the spread of violent crime we need to violently dismantle this high and low school thing we call an educational system and all that goes with it,” he said in reference to the controversial common entrance exam.
“We need a totally revamped education system with a ministry that cares and is equipped physically and mentally to do the job,” he said.
Prime Minister Mottley also recently removed the Royal Barbados Police Force from the portfolio of Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson and placed it with Attorney General Dale Marshall. However head of the local pressure group is not convinced that such measures would suffice.
Rock also condemned the country’s justice system for operating too slowly, a situation, which he believed, was encouraging citizens “to take matters into their own hand.” He also criticized government for clogging up the court system with unimportant issues like marijuana-related offences.
“Legalize the cannabis,” demanded Rock.
“Allow greater access to it by all. Cut out the high street prices and the need to rob those who have managed to get through the island’s borders with the plant. Research cannabis in poverty-stricken communities and understand how the plant already aids in the reduction of violent crime, and how its legalization for meditational/recreational use will impact violent crime.”
The African Heritage Foundation president also appealed for more empowerment of community organizations, “who actually have plausible tangible solutions for social issues that plague our nation. Have consultations with these groupings and see what you can learn from them,” he urged, adding that politicians alone could not be trusted with the public’s safety.
“To seriously tackle violent crime in our society we must also address what is played on our radio stations and public transportation aimed at the youth. How can we expect to be praising criminals on the radio, ‘bigging’ them up and expect the violence to ease up? This too must violently be addressed.”