Fri | Jun 18, 2021

Stronger measures needed for crime management

Published:Monday | December 30, 2013 | 12:00 AM


Day in, day out our Govern-ment does the same things and expects different results. Take the matters of gun crime, sex with minors, and witnesses not showing up in court.

On gun crimes: Our security forces spend an inordinate amount of time and resources getting guns off the street, yet even more guns are coming in. It is a well established fact that guns are coming through our porous shoreline from Haiti and other countries. The Government is yet to come up with a plan to stem this trend. They have not increased the penalty for illegal possession of guns. I think it is high time that the Government makes fisherfolk bear some responsibility for protecting the coastlines and be held accountable for their whereabouts on the high seas.

I think that the Government should pass legislation to make it a criminal offence for fishermen to leave our shores without first registering their planned destination. I think every fishing port should have an established base manned by fishing wardens with powers of arrest under the Wildlife and Fisheries Act. Whenever fishermen are going to sea they should have their IDs, must sign and have their boats inspected for basic safety equipment and declare where they are going to fish. Upon their return to shore they should again declare their catch to the wardens. If they stay at sea for an unusual amount of time then the police should be called to investigate. I think having such a system would curtail the gun trade and help to ensure that fishermen comply with the fishing laws.

sex with minors

On the matter of sex with minors:

Personnel from the Ministry of Health, and the police (community policing units) should start going into all our primary and secondary schools and give talk to students, male and female, on health issues and what constitutes an offence under the law. They should be told of the expected behaviour from male and females, the penalty for committing offences and where and how to report offences committed against them. I am convinced that such interaction would stem sexual offences.

On witnesses not showing up in court:

This serves to undermine our justice system. It is believed to be true that a witness not showing up in court is the new trend designed to get an accused off the charges. It is believed that some witnesses collect money from defendants in return for not showing up in court. At the time of trial some witnesses who cannot be found are in the plain view of the police. Other witnesses who vanish in thin air during the period of the trial are then seen up and about whenever the case against the defendant is dismissed. It is believed by some to be true that this practice is aided and abetted by some defense attorneys, police officers, court officials and even some judges.

I personally believe that it should not be the responsibility of the police to have witnesses show up in court. First and foremost, the witness is responsible to do their constitutional duty and show up. The courts should, in addition to the police making a delivery, have a subpoena delivered by mail to the witness. The witness is duty-bound to report any change of address to the court. Any witness who fails to show up in court should be automatically charged with contempt of court, the matter followed through, with delinquent witnesses tried and sentenced to jail time. The defendant's bail should be revoked. If a new approach and strong measures are taken we would see less gun crime, sex offences against teens, and more witnesses showing up for trial. Or, we can continue to wait for the next wave of foreigners (whose culture, lifestyles and circumstances are different from ours) to tell us what to do.

Authnel Reid