With two murders already recorded since the start of this year, Senator Kevin Boyce is urging the Mia Mottley administration to move swiftly with “the most appropriate” measures to bring the crime situation under control.
The independent Senator made the plea on Wednesday when the Upper House resumed after the Christmas break and started debate on the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill.
Boyce said like many Barbadians, he too, was very concerned about the crime situation plaguing the island, and especially the gun violence “that is raring its head”.
“We can’t be debating this legislation without recognizing, and certainly not seeking to appeal to any form of outcry or knee-jerk reaction. We do recognize the issue of cause and effect. So while we have this debate I would like to urge the Government to do what they have to do, recognize the public’s concern about the situation and take the necessary steps in the most appropriate manner to see that the situation is resolved,” said Boyce.
On January 4, the island recorded its first murder for 2020, which was the result of a shooting. And last week Thursday, a father was gunned down in front of St Alban’s Primary School in Weston, St James.
Last year there were 49 murders in Barbados, a record for the island.
“We recognize, and it is an age-old debate – how far do we go in the preservation of the society, what rights are we prepared to see eroded to provide security? It is a heavy burden which the Government has to bear and we do sympathize with the position of the Attorney General. It is a rough position to be in,” Boyce said.
Nevertheless, he said he was confident that “the appropriate steps will be taken sooner rather than later”, adding that the Government had the full support of residents given the growing concern.
“I believe it is fair to say that the public will support the Government in whatever initiative the Government believes necessary to wrestle the situation to the ground,” he said.
At the same time, Senator Boyce said there was a level of hypocrisy among Barbadians, suggesting that there was a national outcry depending on where the violence takes place.
“I do recognize the hypocrisy of the position that when we have situations like [the shooting] at Sheraton Mall or St Albans [primary school] they become the topic of national discourse. But the fact is we have had certain communities in this island which have had to deal with this for a number of years and there was no noise,” said the senator.
“The Government has the public behind it and during this period should use the initiative while you have this level of public support to take the necessary steps,” he said.
During the short debate, Deputy President Senator Rudolph Greenidge questioned the decision of judges to grant a murder accused bail, saying it was something that “troubled” him.
“It is something that has happened on quite a few occasions already. It happened quite recently where someone actually got bail for murder,” he said.
The amended Act makes provision for those who were previously sentenced to the death penalty, to get a review of punishment.