Mottley: Let police and courts handle the criminals

As the country grapples with a recent spike in violent crimes, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has offered a stern condemnation of vigilante acts of justice, describing them as “unacceptable” in our landscape.

In recent weeks, there have been several daring and gruesome homicides. They include the stabbing of 27-year-old Shanice Miller in Bridgetown, the death of public service vehicle (PSV) operator Victor Preacher Man Walton last Friday who was hospitalised on December 1 after being shot twice in the head while on the job; the death of Rommel Tyson Jones, whose body was found near the Three Houses River. On Saturday, 22-year-old Reco Alkins was killed at Lears, St Michael.

Making no specific references, the PM, during an address to welcome more than 400 new justices of the peace, slammed the notion that people could “take the law into their own hands”.

“I want to disabuse people of that because whether the violence is original violence or vigilante violence, it is unacceptable in our landscape, because let he who is without sin apparently cast the first stone, but above all else, the law does not give you the right to impose your version of justice on other persons,” declared Mottley.

“That is why the police force and the courts exist, for us to have a transparent system that is above all other considerations of partiality. And, that is why the oath that you just took speaks about acting without fear or favour and it is critical that you remember this,” the PM told the new JPs.

It was the first such ceremony since 2019 and according to Mottley, the role of the new inductees should go well beyond the formal functions of the state. She appealed to them to  to nurture and lead in communities and homes.

“We are a country where persons have told stories of how head teachers, teachers, community nurses, priests, kept communities and villages together,” said Mottley.

“In addition, there were the stories of the station sergeants and the constables who played that critical role. With our society today, where more information is generated from outside than within, it is absolutely critical that each and every one of us plays our role in maintaining order and in building out this society.

“It therefore means that this cannot be left to the just over 1300 police that we have or the soldiers that we have or the judges that we have or the magistrates that we have. It has to be the responsibility of each and every one of us irrespective of where we sit in our leadership positions,” the PM added.

Among the new justices of the peace was founder of the Nature Fun Ranch Corey Lane; founder of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) Kemar Saffrey; educator and social media influencer Stephanie Chase; Officer in Charge of the Community Policing Initiative and Juvenile Liaison Scheme Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler; General Secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration David Denny and former President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowell.

Mottley explained that the role of JPs would be magnified as the government moves to base many of its social services, like the community outpatient clinics within districts.

She also urged them to leverage the added respect that comes with post, hold fast to the old adage that it “takes a village to raise a child” and above all, to be able to distinguish between duty and friendship.

“When you marry that provision of services with your presence in the community, with the presence of the school teachers and principals in the community, with the pastors and preachers, with the community groups and social groups and sporting groups, then we have the architecture, my friends, for keeping a strong nation literally and moving from that strength to higher levels of strength as we go forward,” said the Prime Minister.

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