With Barbados having recorded one of the deadliest years in recent history, Attorney General Dale Marshall has given the assurance that Government is doing everything in its power to stem the murder rate.
Tuesday night’s shooting of 27-year-old Mekail Harding brought the murder toll for 2020 to 42, slightly fewer than last year’s 49.
While acknowledging that those figures were worrisome, the Attorney General told Barbados TODAY efforts were being made to address the situation.
He said while the use of illegal guns continued to be a problem for police, a new trend of using knives and sharp-edged objects to commit murders had emerged.
“The Government continues to be concerned about the level of violent crime in Barbados, in particular those involving guns. While we have witnessed seven [fewer] murders this year compared to last year, the fact remains that we must redouble our efforts to further reduce this scourge.
“Also of concern is the increasing use of knives and other sharp-edged weapons to settle disputes, some of which have resulted, most regrettably, in death,” Marshall pointed out.
However, he said Government was fully committed to finding a solution to the problem and had rolled out a slew of strategies and programmes to do so.
“As part of its commitment to address homicides, this administration has employed a range of strategies which included increasing resources available to the police force, greater collaboration among and between law enforcement agencies, and the introduction of initiatives to strengthen the judicial system so that it could respond more expeditiously to matters. These have been complemented by programmes addressing some of the social drivers of crime,” the Attorney General maintained.
“If we combine these approaches with a commitment by citizens to do their part, I am confident that our national response will be successful.”
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley called on Government to do more.
He said even though scanners at the Bridgetown Port had been upgraded in an effort to prevent illegal guns from entering the country, he had seen no evidence to suggest that strategy was working.
“I’ve always said we’ve got to stop the inflow of guns into the country. I know Government has boasted that it has fixed the operational scanners at the Port, but I don’t know that we have seen any diminution of the number of gun-related crimes taking place in Barbados. It is almost a daily occurrence, and we are almost reaching that point where people are becoming desensitised and it doesn’t hit you like it used to,” Atherley, the leader of the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) said.
“We have to try and stop the flow of guns into the country; find out exactly where they are coming in…. We’ve got to be able to put our hands on the people who are importing these guns into Barbados and bring them under the hands of the law, the judicial system.”
Atherley said it was highly likely that the people responsible for importing guns into Barbados were also involved in the drug trade.
He said if police arrested those individuals, it would be a major accomplishment.
“It is quite possible that some of the same people who import the guns import the drugs into Barbados. We have to lock up one or two big people and if there are any public officials involved in any corrupt way in facilitating the passage of guns or drugs into Barbados, we have to deal with them and deal with them with the full, full force of the law,” Atherley said. ([email protected])