Barbados gets tough on crime

Brathwaite said that many of the recent random acts of violence appear to be drug-related and robbery.

File Photo

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite says  the Barbados government is examining the possibility of introducing legislation to deal with the so called “cash for gold trade” which he blamed has contributed to the recent spate of robberies in the country.

In a statement, following the murders of two people, including 42-year-old Austrian Metamara Stock on Tuesday night, Brathwaite said the police were working around-the-clock to bring the perpetrators to justice “as well as to rein-in those hot spots where violence seems to be the chosen path”.

Brathwaite said that many of the  recent random acts of violence involving the use of dangerous weapons that jeopardize the lives of innocent bystanders, even in their homes and at entertainment events, appear to be drug-related and robbery. 

“I am aware, based on discussions with the Commissioner of Police, that the cash for gold trade is contributing to the state of robberies, and believe that legislative intervention will be required to address this trade.

“Indeed, I want to reassure all that Government and the Police Force are committed to ensuring that this country remains a relatively safe environment for everyone here.”

Brathwaite said he was also concerned that while the numbers of serious crimes were down, “there has been a spurt of violent and senseless acts, of which some of our young people seem both to be the victims and the perpetrators.

“The (Police) force has put certain preventative measures in place, including stepped-up surveillance and an increased presence at events, shopping areas and the wider community to stem any undesirable acts.

“Government intends to amend the Road traffic Act, which we believe will reduce the use of false licence plates, as we have noted the frequent use of vehicles with false licence plates in criminal activity.”

But the Attorney General said that the police alone cannot achieve success without the help of the public and reminded law abiding citizens that they have a responsibility to contact the police whenever a crime is being committed.

He said parents also had a role to play and “prevent their homes from being used as safe harbours for deadly weapons, which can be used in a fit of temper to cause grievous bodily harm. 

“Parents and peers have a responsibility to look out for signs of drug use, drug addiction or drug trafficking, particularly when unemployed young men and women start purchasing and sporting expensive, brand-name gear and items.”

Brathwaite described crime as a scourge in any country and that all stakeholders including the judiciary, government, police, the church” all have a role to play in keeping this scourge at bay. 

“I am particularly calling on the church to not only speak out, but also become active in our country, as I am convinced that our moral decay has led us to this chapter in our history.

“We have seen the startling crime statistics in other Caribbean countries, and it would be tantamount to burying our heads in the sand if we were to believe that this is not possible in Barbados. But, left unchecked, that is precisely what would happen.”

Brathwaite said that the importation of illegal arms and illegal drugs gives the criminal element the leverage to wreak havoc on the society, since the “two are linked to most of the heinous acts committed.

“This is a continued danger to our development, which threatens to move from the underworld to colour our language and our attitudes to each other.

“I speak of the invasion of foreign habits and tastes bred of that culture, which seems so attractive to our young people, addicted as they are to the music that spreads the language of violence, the baggy pants drooping below the hips, and the excessively powdered cleavage, all symbols of North American street culture and deviance.

“These traits are readily imported and copied with little understanding of what they represent in that other place. Our youth are seduced too by the power of money offered by the drug lords to carry out demeaning tasks, which can end in their senseless death.”

Brathwaite said that the country must wrestle with these problems and announced that Barbados will be working more closely with its counterparts in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Regional Security System, as well as with the United States and Britain, “as we aim to step up territorial surveillance to keep out drug traffickers and gun-runners, since the perpetrators of these scourges seem bent on infiltrating not only our borders, but our young minds as well.

“Conversely, we must praise and uphold those role models among our youth and citizens who write poetry, calypso, reggae, soca and gospel; those who paint the beauty of our spectacular landscape and the glorious faces of our people. 
“We must also salute those who create artefacts, handicraft and clothing; those hardworking artisans who fashion our magnificent structures; those who give their all in the public and private sectors; and those who generate their own employment, while we endeavour to find jobs for those not so inclined.”

The Attorney General said there was also a role for the media “as we grapple with illegal drugs, HIV/AIDS, poverty and other ills in the society.

“As a country, we dare not remain passive and indifferent, lest we become strangers in our own land, or let our lands become strange to us because of the gun and drug culture,” he added.

CMC/11

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