Prime Minister Freundel Stuart believes that there are two systems of justice operating in Barbados and one of them must be eliminated.
He expressed the view while noting his deep regret and profound sadness over an incident on Monday evening where 20-year-old Tareid Rock was killed and several others injured on Spring Garden Highway, at the climax of Grand Kadooment.
Prime Minister Stuart extended condolences to the Rock family and best wishes to all those persons who sustained injury and assured them of his thoughts and prayers.
Mr. Stuart submitted: “One thing is very clear to me; if those who say gun violence is an incident of the drug trade and the existence of gangs in Barbados, it is clear that we now have two justice systems running parallel with each other.
“There is the mainstream justice system, beset with complaints about delays, adjournments, the amount of time it takes to get decisions and that kind of thing; and there is the underworld justice system in which there is no scope for delay or adjournment of any kind. Once guilt is established justice is swiftly and ruthlessly dispensed and the question that we will ultimately have to ask ourselves is whether we can continue to have two justice systems running in our society.
“I do not think that the bulk of the Barbadian population has any interest in having parallel systems of justice. I think most Barbadians still believe that our mainstream justice system is to be preferred even though they think that it needs to be markedly improved and needs to be more responsive to their needs.”
Mr. Stuart said there was a certain amount of passion, intensity and determination seen in the activities of persons involved in the underworld. “We cannot allow the passion and intensity of those who are committed to doing the wrong thing to outdistance and outpace our own passion to do the right thing and allow that underworld to take over Barbados,” he stated.
He pointed out that the problem of firearm use by some young men first came to the fore about 30 years ago and it had gotten progressively worse with the passage of time. He noted that the underworld had “a different value system that pivots around money-making and material acquisition and it is imperative to ensure that this underworld never becomes the face of Barbados”.
The Prime Minister stressed that this battle must not only be fought by Government or Opposition parties, but by every level of the society, including homes, communities, schools, churches, civil society and community-based organisations.
“The battle is on for the very survival of Barbados as we have known it… We can’t fight this battle if we are paralysed by fear and we cannot win this battle if we believe that indifference is the best response to it. We don’t want a society in which our young people are more familiar with the sound of gunfire than they are with the sound of an orchestra,” he said.
Mr. Stuart added that “we have to strengthen our policing and our courts have to send very strong signals that as the guardians of the values of our society they are not going to tolerate this kind of behaviour”.