No abuse

Top cop pledges no violation of civil liberties

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is not about to fight crime by breaching the civil rights of Barbadians, the island’s top law enforcement officer said.

The contentious Police (Amendment) Bill, which was approved by the Senate last night, has sparked fears among some Barbadians, including the Bar Association and social activist David Comissiong, that lawmen would abuse the powers that they have been given under the legislation, particularly against residents of the more deprived communities.

However, Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith told the annual conference of the RBPF at Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St Michael this morning that the Force had no such intentions.

“I wish to assure Barbadians that the Royal Barbados Police Force has no interest in responding to the challenges associated with violent crime through the use of any intervention that in any way undermines the rights of its citizens,” Griffith told a packed auditorium of his men and women.

The legislatgion gives lawmen the power to, among other actions, cordon areas and impose curfews restricting the movement of people, while it significantly increases the power of cops to enter homes to carry out searches and other investigative operations.

Under the legislation, only a police officer with the rank of inspector or higher could cordon off an area to conduct investigations such as searches of vehicles, while a 48-hour curfew of a district or parish requires the approval of the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General.

Senators Carol Lady Haynes, Alvin Adams, John Watson, Sir Henry Fraser, Sir Roy Trotman, Sir Trevor Carmichael and Wilfred Abrahams had called for the withdrawal of the measure, pending public consultations, but to no avail.

In addition, a number of Barbadians went online to express their fears, concerns, apprehension and suspicion of the Act.

“I am vey fearful that this Act would pass just prior to a crucial election with government ministers warning of violence and blood flowing in the streets. I don’t know what they are trying to protect or hide, but this situation can become very dangerous,” one poster, David Brathwaite, posted on the Barbados TODAY website.

“The people’s democratic rights must be upheld. Search warrant should be issued before any such encounters; otherwise we are now become (sic) a police state and individual right is now eroded upon,” added another with the moniker, Helicopter(8P).

However, the top cop has sought to ease the minds of the population, insisting that his officers would not employ strong-armed tactics.

Nevertheless, he said, lawmen would not lie down and play dead while allowing violent criminals to run riot.

“It must be noted that our response to these and other challenges must reflect an understanding of communities that if not presented with strong law enforcement and other supporting interventions will serve as the incubator for violence, public disorder and ultimately an organized challenge to the rule of law,” Griffith said.

Therefore, he warned, wherever there is a threat to the life or freedoms of individuals, police will move to repel any such threat with all reasonable and legal interventions.

“It is within this context that we will continue to review existing legislation and where necessary, make submissions for the consideration and introduction of appropriate legislation if we are to remain effective and efficient in a rapidly changing criminal environment,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, despite the approval of the measure by both houses of Parliament, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite this morning hinted at the possibility of having wider public consultation on the legislation.

At the same time he said fears that police would trample on the civil liberties of citizens, and claims that the measure was unconstitutional, were unfounded.

“I believe that the misinformation has gone out there. I will spend some time on it on Sunday in a different place,” he told reporters on the sidelines of this morning’s police conference in response to a question from Barbados TODAY as to whether there should be further consultation on the Bill.

The Bar Association issued a statement on Tuesday expressing “deep” concern that the law gives the Commissioner of Police, with the written approval of the Attorney General, the power to impose a 48-hour curfew of a district or parish.

Similar powers exist in the Emergency Powers Act, but require the approval of a two-thirds majority of Parliament or the entire Cabinet. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

12 Responses to No abuse

  1. Sue Donym February 8, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    A senate with a legislated majority for the existing gov’t is no more than a rubberstamping facility.
    What ever happened to the case where a citizen on bail and a curfew, was charged with assalting the Commissioner of Police and violating his curfew?

    Reply
  2. luther thorne February 8, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Nuff Laws are on the books. How many are enforced ?
    Steupse !!

    They need to consult with the people. Just like elsewhere when you vote you should vote on many issues not jyst place an X for an individual.

    Reply
  3. St Clair worrell February 9, 2018 at 12:20 am

    Somehow l feel like going with the police on this one. ..There may be some points that needs to be discussed and/or adjusted but for now l believe that crime needs serious attention before it gets worse. …Then everybody will be shouting the police need to do something. .. Give them some scope plz…I fail to see any orders given for police to arrest citizens at a peaceful gathering, it’s
    mostly the criminal element and those who support it. ..

    Reply
  4. Sheron Inniss February 9, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Your assurance gives me no comfort. I await the outcome of “Blues” case and all those who feel aggrieved by actions of the police force.

    Reply
  5. David Brathwaite February 9, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I am now even more alarmed than ever. The editorial in today’s Nation is a must read for every right thinking Barbadian.

    It quotes Jeff Cumberbatch, the UWI law professor, as saying in his column that “It seems clear that the local authorities are contemplating a period of substantial social disruption.” Why would they be contemplating this, and why are we constantly hearing from ministers about violence and rivers of blood in the streets?

    We know that Parliament, by a two-thirds majority vote, can declare a state of emergency, but this new Police Powers Act that was just passed in the Senate (so it only needs the GG’s signature to become law) essentially hands over emergency powers to the AG and the Commissioner of Police, without a declaration of a state of emergency.

    With the current Parliament set to come to an end on March 5th, the new Act will be in place.

    What the hell are these people planning?

    Reply
  6. David Brathwaite February 9, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Another line from the Nation editorial, “People are liable . . . to become increasingly fearful of the impact on them and their families of whatever might ensue from the anticipated insurrection.”

    The anticipated insurrection???!!! I just cannot believe what I am reading.

    Reply
  7. Helicopter(8P) February 9, 2018 at 11:04 am

    The Police Amendment (Act) if passed in the House of Assembly should be utilized only when it has been informed to the senate members and a majority (Ayes) are met on the decision . I personally believe this is as democratic and human rights as possible in these crime stricken times. I would wish and hope that the nationals of Barbados understand that a wholesome, productive, civilized environ makes great for the tourist sector. Who in the world wants to leave their rural Canadian village in Alberta find their way on a commercial jet to the “Island in the Sun” called Bim or rather Barbados pick up the local newspapers only to find he left home to visit a ghetto wit armed running bandits as though they were star players in a Wild West movie out of Hollywood U.S.A

    Reply
  8. Alex Alleyne February 9, 2018 at 11:31 am

    World wide , there is always a “special force” within the Police Force.

    Reply
  9. Ossie Moore February 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    . . . by the way , since I’ve got your attention Mr. Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith ,how about you and your Public affairs officer ( P A O ) Roland Cobbler taking a lesson about ” black History ( SINCE THIS IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH ).

    The ROYAL Barbados Police Dept. still describes black Barbadians ( the way they were taught by the British centuries ago ) like slaves and jungle animals.

    large head
    round head
    big nose
    large mouth
    big lips
    big eyes
    large ears
    bow legs
    dark skin
    walks with an erect stance

    Mr. Commissioner these descriptions describe you and all the officers of the entire RBPF along with the Barbados media ( the Barbados Today and the Nation newspaper ).

    How do you think Black Barbadians would react if a white Police officer form Great Britain , Canada , The USA or any European country described a black Barbadian the way you described them ?

    Then that white Police officer would be call a ” white racist prejudiced officer who don’t like black bajans ”

    So the next time before you Sir and your PAO Roland Cobbler give out a description a black Barbadian I urge you both to take a very serious look in the mirror and tell Barbadians what you saw. . . . .. . did you see :

    (a) a black Barbadian or

    ( b) a wild jungle animal

    I am quite sur

    Reply
  10. luther thorne February 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    When the Central Bank Governor was in the chair , he went along with what the Minister said. When he was fired, he changed he mout. So yuh does cant believe nuttin these people seh.

    Reply
  11. Lennox hewitt February 9, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Cause u cannot violate no one civil liberty cause that where human rights come in keeping me in house cant come out is kinda faults imprisonment so be very carefull what u sll do i no my rights n u csnt keep me n house 2 days curfew

    Reply
  12. Ossie Moore February 9, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    The problem is that they are too many people in “buh”bados ( Barbados ) woth:

    large heads
    round heads
    big noses
    large mouths
    big lips
    big eyes
    large ears
    bow legs
    dark skin
    walks with an erect stance

    Reply

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