AG statement on crime
Following the latest murders in Barbados – the killing of 79-year-old retired engineer Arthur Chaderton and his 42-year-old son-in-law, Metamara Stock, – Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite yesterday issued the following statement on the crime situation in the island.
As a responsible Government, we constantly assess the state of affairs in our country, particularly societal behaviour and any evolving patterns of criminal activity across our communities that are, for the most part, alien to our culture.
It is in this regard, and at the end of another successful Crop Over Festival, that I need to draw attention to a recent trend that has reared its ugly head, particularly on weekends and on public holidays.
I refer to those lawless elements in our society who indulge in senseless acts of violence. Here, I specifically want to highlight the latest incident yesterday, when two innocent lives were cut short because of an apparent robbery.
Let me at the outset express my deep sorrow at this tragedy, and offer my sincere condolences to the families of the two men who lost their lives.
Such wanton acts must be frowned on and abhorred by all decent, right-thinking persons.
As I speak, let me assure residents and visitors to our shores that the Royal Barbados Police Force is working around-the-clock to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice; as well as to rein-in those hot spots where violence seems to be the chosen path.
This also brings me to 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. As Attorney General, as a citizen, and moreover as a father of young children who are now enjoying their teenage years, these periodic brutal acts have been causing me some concern.
Many of these 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.
I am certain that many Barbadians share my concern and that of the Government that, despite earlier revelations by the Royal Barbados Police Force that 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 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.
However, the police cannot achieve success without the help of each and every member of the public.
If you have witnessed an incident of crime or know who the perpetrators are, you have a responsibility to contact the Police Force and report the matter.
Parents, too, have a duty to 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.
Crime is a scourge in any country. And, all elements in society, from the judiciary, the government and the police, to the family, the church and each of us as individuals, 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.
The importation of illegal arms and illegal drugs gives the criminal element the leverage to wreak havoc on our society; as 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.
As political custodians of our country, indeed leaders at all levels of society – from the home to the work place, we must wrestle with these problems.
Indeed, only recently, one of our Caribbean leaders addressed the subject of the escalating levels of illegal drugs and small-arms related violence in his country and the region, while making a clarion call to action.
In this regard, I am announcing that we in Barbados will be working more closely with our counterparts in 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. Our media must also play their part in this task, 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.
Let me, however, end by assuring you that Barbados continues to be blessed by a low crime rate. Citizens can continue to go about their daily tasks with the same comfort that we had in the past. We, however, need all hands on deck if we are to ensure that this fair land remains the place we have always cherished.