Tougher laws not the answer

Today Barbadians are feeling a bit more comfortable as they move about this their island home.  Shipments of guns and drugs have been stopped at our ports of entry; others have been removed from the streets.

Over the past three weeks, several shipments of marijuana, cocaine, and firearms have been seized in our ports, and intelligence-led operations have resulted in caches being discovered in homes and businesses across the island.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all those hard-working officers in the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Anti-Gun Unit, Customs enforcement, and other agencies which contributed to the discovery of the contraband: you have made us proud, and you have made this country just a bit safer.

Keeping people safe from threats within a country’s borders is a critical function of modern government. Indeed, the need to guarantee safety has always been a motivating force for cohesion in human societies. Without such protection, as 17th Century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it so succinctly, life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  Your stellar work in this operation has gone a long way towards restoring the feeling of security in our communities.

The United Progressive Party has called for enhanced security and surveillance of our borders before, so naturally we support the decision to finally install and commission cameras in all our ports of entry. However, we would like to take this opportunity to remind the Government of Barbados that we need to discard classist assumptions and develop a comprehensive resolution aimed at the source of the criminal activities. Instead of merely treating the symptoms, and looking at the young men in our working-class neighbourhoods, we should address the problem at the root.

Several factors have contributed to the ostensible breakdown of law and order in Barbados.  In many ways, the police, the courts and the prison service are unfortunately fighting a rear-guard action against failures in other sections of society.   As a society, we are in danger of being overwhelmed by values which erode people’s respect for themselves, each other, their homes and their neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, simply drafting tougher laws is not the solution to this multifaceted problem. This is exactly why we are particularly distressed to hear the Attorney General, Hon. Adriel Brathwaite, propose a new stricter Fire Arms Act and anti-gang legislation. He spoke, for example, of making it easier for the constabulary to stop and search a person without having to satisfy the grounds of reasonable suspicion that the person is in possession of a firearm.

This is alarming enough without coupling it with ‘anti-gang’ legislation. Granted he did not specify any proposed measures that would be addressed in this legislation, but generally anti-gang legislation has features like the power to ban certain organisations without due process, making associating with ‘listed’ persons a criminal offence, the criminalizing of certain buildings or spaces, thus bringing a person under suspicion for merely being in that place, and giving the police power to secretly search private homes.

We must be careful how we proceed with encroaching on civil liberties in the name of maintaining order. As the operations carried out in the past few weeks have amply demonstrated, we need to concentrate on securing our borders rather than waiting for contraband to be distributed across the island.

The importers of guns and drugs are unlikely to be stopped at random road checkpoints, they are unlikely to be found in buildings or places ‘utilised by gang members for criminal activities’. Murder is already unlawful, so is conspiring with others to break the law. With electronic surveillance, intercepting telecommunications, and various methods of collecting intelligence to hand, the police force already has adequate tools to solve crimes.

Warehouses, containers, homes, and vehicles can already be examined by enforcement officers under the existing Customs Act, Fire Arms Act and other laws and regulations. The United Progressive Party therefore recommends that instead of piling further restrictions on our working-class youth, and criminalising the forming of associations in our already fragile urban communities, that we seek to nurture positive associations to build capacity in these communities.

We need to rise to the challenge of providing a greater measure of social equality and economic opportunities. Additionally, we recommend that the Attorney General consider new legislation to protect border security officials and to encourage them to refrain from and to report corruption in our ports.

Perhaps we should examine making telephone calls. When we make a telephone call to a bank or other financial institution, the call is recorded. Telephone calls to customs should be similarly recorded. There is no question of personal privacy when the security and safety of an entire nation are at stake. Recording conversations would ensure that customs officers are not given orders that are contrary to their official instructions while on the job.

Furthermore, we recommend that the Government implement legislation to provide for a comprehensive whistle-blowing policy to ensure that employees’ right to free speech is not violated and that they are treated fairly when they resist inducements to corruption, or if they observe corrupt practices in the workplace.

Source: (Lynette Eastmond is leader of the United Progressive Party. Email:voteupp@uppbarbados.org. Website:www.uppbarbados.org)

21 Responses to Tougher laws not the answer

  1. St clair Worrell September 22, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Miss L Eastmond… I am one of the folks who distrust politicians so greatly that l would rather live in a country that is exempt from politics… Loudly stating the tactics that the police are using to counter this upsurge in criminal warfare is like jeopardizing national security and it gives the criminals information that they could use to counteract such tactics…l agree we need to tackle other facets of the problem but you should be careful when in your need to garner votes you don’t contribute to the problem because, should you win a seat the problem would be yours to help solve…. Which could be more problematic since you’ve already broadcast the workings of the police..

    Reply
  2. Chris Barnett
    Chris Barnett September 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    = (FIRST OFF ITS 100% CLEAR HER MAJESTY PRISON DONT WORK ON CRIMINALS) DIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OK SO LETS CONTINUE……………………………………………………………………………………………………….NEXT PROBLEM YOU ALL SIT DOWN IN YOUR AC OFFICES TRYING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS THAT ARE OCCURRING IN COMMUNITIES AND IN THE STREETS YOU ALL WILL SOLVE NOTHING WITH THIS TYPE OF APPROACH……………………………………………………………………………………………………..RIGHT WELL IT DON’T TAKE MUCH ROCKET SCIENCE THEORIES TO UNDERSTAND THE STUPIDITY OF IMPLEMENTING TOUGHER LAWS WHO ARE YOU (KIM JUN) ?????????????? WHAT NEXT WANT TO CHOP OFF HANDS??????????????……………………..I AM SO TIRED OF BARBADOS BACKWARD WAY OF REASONING AND THEN IN SOLVING PROBLEMS WE FACE YOU ALL CONTINUALLY PUSH US BACK IN IDEOLOGIES ……………………WHEN WE SHOULD BE MOVING FORWARD( FROWARD EVER BACKWARD NEVER) ……………………….YOU ALL JUST WANT TO PLACE MORE PEOPLE IN HER MAJESTY PRISON BECAUSE YOU ALL HAVE A QUOTA FOR SUCH……………………………………………………………………………….. PEOPLE WERE BORN FREE YOU IDIOTS IT IS NOT IN OUR FUNDAMENTAL MAKE UP TO OBEY LAWS ……………………………….MAN PLACES LAWS ON MAN AND IF YOU ALL KEEP ON WITH THIS INCREASE LAW THING WE AS THE PEOPLE WILL COME TOGETHER AND REMOVE ALL LAWS ALL TOGETHER AND THAT IS HOW IT WORKS FAMILIES IF YOU ALL DIDN’T KNOW

    Reply
  3. Frederick Verity
    Frederick Verity September 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I agree with this article 100%

    Even today, we are hearing that a senior police officer was arrested. Why would we need a tougher Firearms act or antigang legislation for that?

    We need to clamp down on corruption in top government and private sector positions. Not go after ‘gangs’ and lil block boys who scrapping by.

    Corruption is a function of GREED. Cut the opportunity to be corrupt. Introduce proper freedom of information act and integrity legislation. Protect the people who expose corruption.

    Make Barbados safe again! #UppDeTing

    Reply
  4. Adrian Hinds September 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    ” I am one of the folks who distrust politicians so greatly that l would rather live in a country that is exempt from politics.”

    Our politicians didn’t fall from mars. They are products of the same socieity that gave us you and I. Living in a country exempt from politics!! – not sure what you mean by this, not certain what such a country would look like -do you? Must be a society in which you are the only human. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Michael Crichlow
    Michael Crichlow September 22, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Has anyone mention hard labour?

    Reply
  6. Regina Fertur Lux Worrell
    Regina Fertur Lux Worrell September 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    We need to fundamentally re-evaluate or approach to crime and the punishment of crime. I agree that we cannot simply make harsher laws.

    Our FireArms Act already allows the police to stop and search on suspicion that a person may be carrying an illegal firearm. Why on earth would the police need the power to search random people? This looks more like anti-terrorist legislation!

    And as we continue to encroach more on civil liberties, is it making our country safer? I don’t think that any of the persons arrested for gun importation in the last 3 weeks would ever be caught on a block.

    Reply
    • David Marshall
      David Marshall September 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      What we need to do is to enforce the laws we have now.

      Reply
  7. Alex Alleyne September 22, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    My hope is that the gun haul at the Bridgetown Port will not take the eyes of the other Ports.

    Reply
  8. Anna Spink-Pitcher
    Anna Spink-Pitcher September 22, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Need tougher penalties for the guilty! Need harsher sentences!
    Need to make examples

    Reply
  9. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner September 22, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Ok not just tougher laws but sensible tough laws and go after all criminals not just poor folks because we know big fish involve in a lot of shady slimy dealings but politicians and big shots running Barbados don’t want to deal with that reality.Scapegoating block boys is easy but money is needed to bring in weapons and illegal narcotics which block cats don’t have.

    Reply
    • Frederick Verity
      Frederick Verity September 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Our laws are already comprehensive. Importation of illegal guns is illegal. Customs officers can seize guns from inland warehouses, the police can search and seize.

      What more laws we need? None. We need to enforce the ones we have.

      We need to protect customs officers who speak out. We need to provide opportunities for honest work to our young people.

      Reply
    • Rawle Spooner
      Rawle Spooner September 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Frederick Verity And we need to go after all criminals regardless of economic background and areas of residence.

      Reply
    • Frederick Verity
      Frederick Verity September 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Yes, we do. But we don’t need more legislation to do it; all the things are already illegal.

      Also, we don’t need legislation specifically aimed at poor people. We don’t need to made blocks illegal in order to arrest gun importers who live in Heights and Terraces.

      We don’t need the police to arbitrarily stop and search when we know that intelligence-driven operations are more effective.

      Reply
    • Rawle Spooner
      Rawle Spooner September 22, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Frederick Verity You are spot on I could not have said it any better.

      Reply
  10. john jochum September 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Good question ! No truer word has ever been spoken ! Yes ! It MAY be true (???) that ‘The police force already has adequate tools to solve crime ‘! But do they utilize these same tools and dare go after “criminals regardless of economic background and areas of residence “? Do they go after persons with power and authority…e.g corrupt politicians, manifestly crooked lawyers , persons in both the public and private sectors who demand and/or accept bribes ? Or are their efforts and successes a result of them concentrating upon the most vulnerable … the less sophisticated, disadvantaged, the poor and downtrodden ?

    Reply
  11. hcalndre September 22, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I never thought that I would live to read that Barbados has become a country where people rights will be trampled. Stop and search without probable cause, entering homes with out a warrant, hope the government have money put aside for law suits. You are putting the police officers` lives in danger and if proper guide lines are not in place, officers would be dead and the accused would walk free although it would be difficult in Barbados but the CCJ is there. Have bajans ever heard that you don`t give up your Freedom for Safety.

    Reply

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