Nationwide outrage at the latest of a score of murders committed so far this year reached fever-pitch on the floor of the House of Assembly today in a rare outburst by a sitting lawmaker, a medical doctor, who called for the gunmen to be put to death.
MP for St Philip North Dr Sonia Browne, who said her daughter was present at Sheraton Centre Mall “the day before” the brazen execution-style slaying of a St Philip man, further declared that any perpetrator who shoots at the police “should not live to tell the story” and she says capital punishment must be put back on the table.
The backbencher said to the House: “I today will speak the truth and nothing but the truth.
“Criminals are no longer afraid of the law. We have people shooting at police officers then the public defends it. In my mind, if you shoot at a police officer you should not live to tell about it that is how I feel about it.”
The physician-legislator said crime was at the top of her list because it was hitting too close to home and criminals do not fear punishment.
“Crime is top of my list. My daughter was there [Sheraton Centre] the day before that shooting happened. I could have been the mother getting called. Just the other day a neighbour, walking distance from me, was stabbed to death. Right beside my property somebody was held up at gunpoint. This is a serious situation and it is hitting a little too close to home. We have people running into the polyclinics with guns. It is gross disrespect they don’t fear punishment.”
Declaring that drastic times should be addressed by drastic measures she repeatedly asked what was the position with capital punishment in the country.
“What has become of capital punishment? It cannot only be about the rights of the murderers it has to be about the rights of the victims. It is not easy for a mother or father or sibling to hear that a relative was raped dragged through a canefield, throat cut, foot cut off and then Amnesty International would come and say you have to think about the murderer. We have too many lawyers around, many in here.
“What about capital punishment? I was never a supporter of it but I believe drastic times deserve drastic measures.”
The first-term backbencher then appeared to break from the administration’s recently launched policy to provide entrepreneurship tools to mostly unemployed young people who loiter on street corners, the so-called blocks
While praising the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment’s Building Blocks programme she objected to the very term, “blocks”.
Dr Browne said: “We have to face the harsh reality that the majority of the crime comes from the blocks. However much we would like to deny it they are where the drugs come in or used and sold. I really would like the term block knocked off.
“I don’t like the ‘block’ initiative; I don’t like the ‘blocktrepeneurs’. I did a bit of research and the other countries don’t call them blocks. I think we need to take them off the blocks as oppose to patronising the blocks put them in a classroom setting get rid of the term blocks . . . .”