Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday called for concrete recommendations to be adopted at the end of a two-day regional symposium on violence that Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders regard as a public health issue.
“I really believe we would do ourselves an injustice,” she said if the delegates left the gathering without adopting decisions to be implemented across the region.
“We need the Caricom arrest warrant, we need to have the exchange and rotation of judges…we need to have an enlargement of the jurisdiction of magistrates, we need cooperation on forensics and we need to….deconstruct all the rules in our police service and reconstruct them,” Motley told a panel discussion of regional leaders.
Mottley, an attorney, also noted that many years ago “people did not get bail for murder.
“Now when I look at the stats, not just out of the Bahamas, Barbados and all through the region, the people who are causing the greatest problems are charged with two, three, four murders. Something is fundamentally wrong,” she said.
“So I ask myself two basic questions. How are we going to deconstruct and reconstruct to meet the reality of this jurisprudential development that is undermining the rule of law in our countries and we are going to have to find ways of cooperating from the level of the police to the level of the courts, but in particular, forensics.
“If we can get people to court within nine to 12 months, you have a good chance of a person not being given bail. Beyond 12 months, any number can start to play,” Mottley said, questioning why countries have been establishing forensic labs individually.
She also questioned why the region is not involved in “proactive prosecutions rather than reactive prosecutions.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the region as a collective group must agree that greater resources must be placed on international security in the police services “into our ability to gather intelligence, interdict and prosecute.”
“But we must also consolidate our efforts to lobby, particularly the United States, to assist us as we have assisted them in the war on drugs. They must assist us in the war on guns,” Holness said.
“There seems to be no interest in stopping the other part of the trade, which are the guns. The guns fuel crime, they are an accelerant, they are needed to protect drugs that are transshipped to our borders. They are then turned to deal with other forms of criminal activity.”
Holness said in the case of Jamaica, the weapon of choice is no longer the Russian made AK-47, but the AR-15 and the Glock, which are guns manufactured in North America.
“So, collectively as the leaders of Caricom, we must raise our voice on this. We must appeal to our friends in the North to increase their efforts to prevent the flow of guns into the region,” Holness said.
“We must also increase, in a consummate way, our own spending on securing our ports, airports and our points of entry and increase our ability to detect the entry of illegal weapons and we must also change our laws so that they align with the new and sophisticated crimes that are being committed and the flow of weapons into our country.”
Holness said the issue of crime and violence also has to be treated from the public health standpoint noting that Jamaica has established a national commission on the prevention of crime.