Brathwaite tells Sir David to keep his advise on crime
Thanks, but no thanks!
That was Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s response to former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, as the country’s chief legal adviser defended Government’s efforts at addressing the issue of crime and violence.
Earlier this week Sir David called on Government to draw from a green paper on crime done under his watch during the period when he was Attorney General to address the current problems in the country.
However, in his contribution to the ongoing debate on the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in Parliament this afternoon, Brathwaite said he would have none of it.
“If you listen to some individuals, you would believe that the challenges that we have in terms of law and order in this country . . . they are new . . . never had them before,” Brathwaite said.
He told the legislature he had read a green paper on Government proposals for crime reduction dated April 2001 “and signed by the Attorney General at the time, one David Simmons” and much of what he read in the newspaper a couple days ago and attributed to Sir David this week, was the same information contained in the 2002 document.
“Nothing new,” he stressed.
He also recalled the existence of a Law and Order Commission report which was completed around 2006 or 2007 that involved wide consultations across the island.
“But all of a sudden the challenges that we are having in the country had happened because things are hard in Barbados. We haven’t had these challenges before . . . but of course this green paper in 2001 and the Law and Order [Commission Report]with a common theme of how we had escalated gun violence in this country. . .how we need to look at the level of violence in this country and more over, how do we engage on the scientific way in terms of the policies that we put in place to ensure that there is a reduction in crime in this country,” the s chief legal advisor said.
He contended that the current administration had been taking those measures to tackle crime in Barbados.
“That’s certainly as Attorney General . . . the team at the Attorney General’s Office and myself have been doing. We don’t need no green and white paper. We ain’t need no national consultation,” he insisted.
Brathwaite said he had one national consultation because he wanted to transform the juvenile justice system, an issue which he planned to address before year end.
“That, I felt, needed a wide discussion . . . a wide public consultation. But we haven’t had any reason to have any green paper because we understand the issues and in fact have been working methodically to ensure that we can continue . . . Barbados can continue as a safe place to live and work and die . . . and it still is,” the Attorney General argued.
“I don’t feel threatened. Barbados is still a safe place to live and work and play . . . the preferred place for international investors and visitors to come,” he added.
The issue of crime has been a vexing one with Government and lawmen insisting the perception was worse than the reality.
Earlier this year Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith announced an increase in crime last year when compared to 2014, saying the rise was partly attributed to gun-related violence.
However, while not revealing the overall crime rate for 2015, the top cop boasted that despite the rise, the country did better last year in terms of the crime rate than it did in 2013.
“Our record of achievements include our ability over the past two years to maintain crime levels at their lowest within the past 15 years. It must be noted, though there was an increase in crime last year, this comes against the performance, where there was a record of 14 per cent decrease in crime the previous year,” Griffith said at the time at the opening of a two-day crime symposium for police managers at the Regional Police Training Centre at Seawell, Christ Church.
Meantime, concerned about rising incidence of crime, Government organized a national consultation on the society last month to “properly diagnosed” the problem.
In making the announcement in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had said a band-aid approach would not work, and while violence had provoked a legal response, it had social roots.
“We now have a duty to get back and try to retrieve the situation. That is why a broad-based consultation on the society has been planned . . . ,”Stuart said at the time.