There are over 80 murder cases languishing in the country’s judicial system still waiting to be tried and Attorney General Dale Marshall has promised these will be adjudicated with a sense urgency.
But it is the abundance of lethal weapons still on the country’s streets that has been keeping him awake at night.
That is why after expediting the country’s capital offences through the appointment of new judges and prosecutors, the AG has promised to tackle the abundance of guns on the street speedily.
“We have about 80 murder trials waiting to be done. In fact, it is just over 80 and those five judges are going to go through those murder trials with a sense of urgency and giving them all the priority that we can give. The next priority will be the gun charges,” Marshall promised.
He disclosed: “We have just agreed to give the prosecution department additional prosecutors because you can’t have additional judges with no one to prosecute. We have just hired four additional lawyers for that office and we will hire an additional two in the coming financial year. These are the things that we have to do to get the files down and to make sure that when a fellow gets charged with a murder that you will not see him on bail.
“In order to save our country, the worst of its criminals have to be made to understand that there are consequences that will follow swiftly and therefore putting those additional judges in place is vital.”
Lamenting the large number of illegal firearms still on the country’s streets, Marshall charged that the “unprecedented” number made it through the ports of entry under the previous administration’s tenure.
“We have a large number of guns on our streets. It is not the only [problem], but that is certainly the one that causes me to stay awake at night. Those guns did not come into Barbados last month or the month before or a year ago,” said the AG.
It is for this reason that he took offence at recent statements made by his predecessor, Adriel Brathwaite along with former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who on separate occasions accused the government of paying lip service on critical issues like crime.
“The criminal element has been importing guns into Barbados with intensity over the last few years that was unprecedented and the environment was right because the scanners at the port were down most of the time. So criminals were able to come into the port and collect guns that had been shipped in,” he added.
“Adriel Brathwaite and Freundel Stuart want to say everything now, but there are over a 1000 indictable matters before the high court and the oldest of them dates back to 2007. We lost the election in early 2008. So when you talk about the age of criminal matters that remain in trial, tell Adriel Brathwaite to come on the radio and discuss that, because they sat back and allowed the backlog to be created,” he contended.
Despite facing an uphill battle, Marshall declared “significant strides” were being made to reduce the number of firearms making their way into Barbados along with a number of successful seizures being executed by the Royal Barbados Police Force.
“Every day I get information in my communications… so I know that they are making progress. But the fact is that we are trying to wrestle to the ground a situation that has been in the making for a number of years and the last government has been carrying the burden of this squarely on their shoulders,” said the Attorney General.