Human rights advocate Felicia Dujon has cautioned Barbadians to be vigilant given the many recent changes in legislation and policy.
Pointing to the new Child Protection Bill, in particular, she said there seemed to be a rush to push through the legislation without careful thought and planning.
“We need to remain alert about and very vigilant about what this current administration is doing to this country. We have seen a lot of policies, we have seen a lot of laws being legislated and when we ask questions we are being told to be quiet and being bombarded in Parliament and being called liars. We have to ensure whatever we do we remain the truth-bearers of this country,” Dujon said as she addressed a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) zonal meeting at Chelsea Avenue, St Michael on Sunday.
The Child Protection Bill and the Child Justice Bill were both recently tabled in the Lower House of Parliament but debate has been put on pause for the bills to go before a Joint Select Committee for further consideration.
Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams said last Friday they could be amended to take public opinion into account.
“Sir, take some time and go through the bill and take some time to understand the bill. We are not saying that we do not support the bill; we are saying that there are fragments of the bill that would be very problematic for parents,” said Dujon, who was among those who publicly expressed concern about the Child Protection Bill.
Regarding the proposed education reform, she questioned whether the Government could afford it.
Dujon also advised that any changes made to the education system should be beneficial in both the short and long term.
“We may have ideas and provide change, and that is something we are seeing a lot with this Government – they want to change history, change everything – but we want to ensure that whatever we are changing has a positive impact on our youth. We don’t want to change something and then two or three years down the road we have to change it, as we’ve seen with this Government,” she said.
Dujon, a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, also suggested that education reform must be focused on developing children into balanced human beings.
“If we are speaking about education reform and we have not reformed the minds of our children, we are wasting our money, we are wasting our resources. It is important that when we think about education for the Barbadian child, we develop the character of our children. When we develop that character, we develop that person. We must invest in every aspect of our development,” she insisted.
Making reference to a recent video circulating on social media showing a student being beaten and no one helping, the human rights activist said those types of incidents need to be addressed by the authorities.
“Our youth are in serious trouble,” she said. “When we have brutalising on the streets where no one turned around and helped that child, we know that something is wrong.”