The Barbados Labour Party has called on the Government to do more to combat the surge of violent crimes that has claimed 18 lives so far this year and left scores of others injured.
The call came from former Attorney General Dale Marshall today (July 18, 2017), hours after Colleen Beresdean Payne of Lodge Hill, St Michael was shot on Monday night (July 17, 2017) by two men.
The 58-year-old was attacked when she attempted to use an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at University Drive, Black Rock, St Michael around 9 p.m.. She was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and later succumbed to her injuries.
Payne’s death was the fourth murder in two weeks.
The following is the full text of Marshall’s statement:
Yesterday’s murder of another innocent brings the number of murders in Barbados to 18 thus far for 2017. For the whole of last year we had 21 murders.
In the last two weeks only, we have had four homicides.
This is not a numbers game, since each life lost through murder is one too many. However, the statistics do serve to paint a picture of what life in Barbados has come to, and that picture is very far from pretty.
Peace of mind, safety in our homes and the stability which we enjoyed as Barbadians now seems to be vanishing fast. The fear of crime has now reached crippling proportions, so much so that Barbadians are feeling under siege and, increasingly, feel unable to go about this country to work and play as they choose.
Peace and stability are also of significant economic value, since any gains made by any government will quickly be wiped out if we lose our reputation for being a safe place to live and to do business.
But in any national cause, the Government must lead. We therefore call on the Government, and especially the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to immediately set about prioritizing the fight against illegal firearms on our streets as many of the murders committed involved the use of these weapons.
Our Parliament does not need another debate on law and order. What Barbados needs is action on the part of the Government. And we need it now, before another innocent life is taken.
The Barbados Labour Party has gone on record as being willing to support extraordinary expenditure in areas affecting the public health and the security of all Barbadians from criminal elements. I take this opportunity to reiterate this position.
As a postscript, I wish to remind the Government that as the Opposition, we represent constituents too. We therefore have the interest of all Barbadians at heart.
When we were in government, it was the policy of the office of the Commissioner of Police to share the crime statistics with the then opposition Democratic Labour Party. Of late, that practice was honoured more in the breach than anything, and since August 2016, it has stopped completely. There is no property in data and I call on the Royal Barbados Police Force to resume the sharing of the crime statistics with us immediately.
The Barbados Labour Party offers its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of those individuals who have tragically lost their lives to violence this year.