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EDITORIAL: Justice system appears to be failing us


EDITORIAL: Justice system appears to be failing us

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THE LITERAL PUBLIC EXECUTION of Ricardo Rick Rick Bryan last week, preceded hours earlier by war zone-style shooting in Wotton, Christ Church, should have left every law-abiding Barbadian more than a little concerned – and for a number of reasons.

In the case of Bryan, however, the release of the security camera video of his killing at the entrance to Lucky Horseshoe restaurant, and within the compound of the busiest area in Warrens, the Massy complex, added a new dimension to the mix.

There was no need for a single Barbadian to speculate or gossip about what occurred. In living colour, the world saw the killers and the victim, the multiple flashes from the muzzles of the guns, and the deliberateness of the murderers as they carried out their execution.

Taken with the reports of the apparent use of AK-47 assault rifles during the gunplay at Wotton, we do not believe that under the circumstances, many people will apply much weight to the oft-offered suggestions that ordinary Barbadians need not worry since these shootings and resultant deaths really relate to members of the underworld settling scores.

Bryan’s own associates had confessed that he was involved in illegal drug activity, but “balanced” it with the assertion that he used his ill-gotten gains to help his community and any unfortunate soul who might have stumbled upon hard times.

Be that as it may though, those who killed him demonstrated that was their clear intention, and the video suggests they were not about to leave without completing the job. We are in no doubt that, based on the video, any innocent person who happened to be in the immediate area at the time would not have been given favourable consideration.

It might have been persons who operate in the shadows of society settling scores, but when it occurs, in one instance at one of the island’s busiest commercial centres and in the other at a crowded fete (albeit unauthorised), the innocent are as exposed as the intended targets.

And while we understand the analysis of the historians and social commentators as they seek to establish the origin of this deadly mischief that now afflicts our country, we cannot help but conclude that our failing criminal justice system is a major contributor.

We cannot get away from the observation, even if not scientific, that a significant number of the suspects in these violent offences are people already on bail from prior charges for other violent crimes. And the reason they are being given bail is because our courts have been working like molasses running uphill for far too long.

The criminal justice system is supposed to protect the society through the imposition of sentences that act simultaneously as punishment and deterrence. There is very little about the way the system now works that serves these purposes. We are not sending a meaningful message to offenders and would-be offenders that society frowns on this behaviour, and that we are prepared to make them understand this.

What makes it worse is that we can’t even accuse those who are leading us of just talking, because they are not even doing this these days. But perhaps now, given these recent incidents, those with the power and mandate to act will shift into gear and begin to demonstrate that they understand and appreciate how Barbadians feel about the current situation of gun-related violence.