Police state not the aim, says AG
Government is not trying to make Barbados a police state.
This is the assurance to the public from Minister of Home Affairs and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith.
Late last month, in the House of Assembly Brathwaite presented a bill that outlined measures to amend the Police Act. The proposed amendments have come in for strong criticism by social commentators including David Comissiong and members of the Opposition, who said the privacy of Barbadians was under attack.
However, the Attorney General said yesterday there had been too much “misinformation” about the bill.
One of the points of contention is a proposal to give the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General the power to impose a two-day curfew on any area if the commissioner has received intelligence about criminal activity there.
“This issue with stop and search, I don’t understand why that’s an issue, because all that we have done is put it on a firm legislative footing so that everyone knows their rights,” Brathwaite said.
He was speaking at Solidarity House during the start of the annual Royal Barbados Police Force Conference.
“Warrants are executed across Barbados on a daily basis, warrants signed by magistrates and by Justices of the Peace. In this area, not only are police doing what they can now normally do, but we have additional safeguards for the public,” he told members of the Press on the sidelines.
He said the additions included allowing civilians to use their mobile phones to record officers as they were conducting a search.
“The legislation gives the citizen that right, which now presently does not obtain.
“This does not mean that people cannot come and go about their business; it just means that within that defined area, that your movement will be subject to police scrutiny, so that if you come in as indicated you may be subject to search,” the Attorney General explained.
Meanwile, Griffith said the authorities would continue to review existing legislation and make submissions for the consideration and introduction of appropriate legislation.
He said the force had no interest in responding to the challenges with violent crime by using any intervention that undermined the rights of its citizens.
“However, 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 organised challenge to the rule of law.
“Consequently, where our assessment of any community or local space reveals a threat to life or freedoms of individuals, we will move towards the application of all legal and reasonable interventions to remove such threats,” added Griffith. (TG)