If corruption is to be stamped out in Barbados, bias has to be removed from police investigations and prosecutions.
That is according to Opposition Leader Reverend Joseph Atherley, who has called for a level playing field in the fight against crime.
Speaking this morning in Parliament during debate on the Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime Bill 2019, Atherley charged that not all persons were being treated equally.
“We have to remove the apparent existing bias with reference to investigations and prosecutions in Barbados. There is a real perception that depending on who you are, you will not be fully and properly investigated if at all.
“There is that view that there is not the robust effort at the investigation stage depending on who you are, or who you know, or to whom you are known,” Atherley maintained.
“…It cannot be depending on who you know, or where you went to school, or the place of your birth. It cannot be that because you run a business and employ a certain number of Barbadians who are depending on you that you are allowed to escape the net, while others are brought to face the law with respect to their transgressions.”
In supporting the Bill, which will give the Crown the power to confiscate any monies or properties from criminals which have been proven to be attained as a result of criminal activities, Atherley said it was important for persons to know that crime does not pay.
“Most crime is motivated by profit. Pursuing the recovery proceeds of crime would send out the message that we cannot allow crime to pay. We prevent criminals from funding further criminality and we remove negative models in our community that would decrease the risk of instability in financial markets,” the Opposition Leader stated.
He said criminal activity, especially corruption, had the potential to derail the country’s development.
“We are a developing state, we have to deal with the reality of actual and potential corruption. Civil and criminal asset seizure and forfeiture, constitute potent mechanisms for fighting against the scourge of corruption, both in the public sector and in the private business world.
“This is important because corruption will threaten our economy. We are struggling very much now to bring it back on track after the battering of the last several years. Corruption will threaten the integrity of our governance system, our practices, our culture. Small states like Barbados cannot afford that…,” Atherley maintained.