Reaping what we sow

The recent gun violence in Barbados is the result of the island reaping what it has sown over a period of time, says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

She was speaking at a media conference yesterday at the Grantley Adams International Airport, moments after arriving from an overseas trip to several African countries.

“We were the most shocked people when we came into office to find the state of lack of security that we found. I have not seen guns yet that are biodegradable so once they come in they are going to remain,” she said.

“Let’s get context here too. You have the United States of America that has gone crazy and we have to get a hemispheric approach to ban assault weapons, because the truth is it is the automatic weapons that create even greater fear. The reality is that throughout every Caribbean country, throughout every Central and Latin American country, but above all else worse than that, the United States of America that is responsible for the manufacturing (of the guns); this is what we are facing.”

Mottley said the problem could not be solved “only by dealing with it”, but it has to be dealt with.

“That is why even with the Trust verification at the ports, I am deeply upset it has taken as long as it has taken as it has done to do it. I have spoken internally about it and everybody who works in a sensitive position has to make up their mind that they have to be subject to different types of rules and conditions than those who don’t work than those who don’t. That is what it is. To whom much is given much is expected.”

These latest comments on gun related crime come after the most recent shooting incidents. On November 6, Koby Shepherd, 22, was killed at Upper Gills Road, St Michael and Mark Anthony Armstrong, 47, of Hothersal Turning, St Michael was killed in The City. Odwin Ryan Grannum, 39, of Licorish Village, My Lord’s Hill, St Michael was shot and killed three days later.

Mottley explained that the gun violence was a natural reaction to an underinvestment in certain areas such as education and skills training from the previous administration which could be the cause of young people in difficult situations growing up and choosing a life of crime.

“This Government has come in and established a National Transformation Initiative in the middle of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. We went and reintroduced all post secondary and tertiary education training for free, such that the numbers that went down by 40 per cent, have gone back up above where they were. All of these are things we have done even in an IMF programme, but whether we like it or not, the genie was out of the bottle already. The only people who can put it back is the entire population; all 166 square miles.”

Mottley said Government would be strengthening the police service, appointing more judges and changing the legislation to help combat crime.

Her comments come after the acting police commissioner Ewin Boyce spoke at a press conference last Thursday and stated that The Barbados Police Service would be taking a no-nonsense approach to tackling crime.

“The Barbados Police Service will not tolerate any behaviour and will bring the strongest arm to end or eliminate the use of firearms and violence in our society. We are targeting criminal activity with vigour and relentlessly and at every level, and [we] are working in communities to work with those affected by the scourge of violence.”

At the time of that press conference Barbados had recorded 38 murders for the year so far and 29 of those were firearm related. Police say about 19 of those cases were solved and over 127 firearms were recovered this year.  (JC)

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