(BarbadosToday)Minister of People Empowerment and Elderly Affairs Kirk Humphrey has condemned the recent spate of violence against persons living on the streets.
And he has applauded law enforcement officers on their swift response to bring the perpetrators of these violent acts against the homeless before the law courts.
The Minister made it clear that there was no reason, rationale or justification, for this kind of behaviour, particularly on vulnerable persons.
“It is unacceptable. It is not who we are, and we condemn it as a Government in the strongest possible terms,” Minister Humphrey said.
“. . . . One would think that because this particular case has received so much attention that this is a one-off incident. Unfortunately, persons who reside on the streets all over the world are victims of crime consistently, and people may believe there is a misconception. People may believe that persons who are on the streets are normally the perpetrators of crime and, therefore, not be able to give them the necessary compassion when they’re the victims of crime.
“But the truth is they are way more often the victims of crime than they are the perpetrators of crime. The reports and records at the police station would support this view. I am very concerned about the growing lawlessness among young people. We have seen it during the Crop Over Festival. I want to thank the Barbados Police Service for what they have done to intervene in relation to that,” he added.
Police are currently probing recent incidents where homeless persons were attacked. They confirmed that one man is currently assisting with the investigations.
President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homeless (BAEH) Kemar Saffrey, during a press conference on Monday, expressed fears that there could be more violent attacks on homeless persons in The City.
It was reported that several clients of the BAEH were seriously beaten, including one who was stabbed, a female slapped in the face, and another person sustained an injury that resulted in memory loss.
Noting that the Government was committed to protecting vulnerable persons in society, Ministry Humphrey said relevant legislation to protect these individuals is currently being drafted.
He said the Ministry was also working with the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness to resolve the issues affecting members of the vulnerable group.
Government, he added, was willing to work with church groups and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) seeking to help end homelessness.
“But there are many causes of homelessness, and of course, housing is a problem we are working on. As I said, many of these persons will need additional intervention, medical attention, mental health assessments and so on. So there are a number of other interventions that we have to be willing to work on as well at the same time,” he said.