A Citizen’s Response To The Newly Amended Police Act
So, even in the face of wise counsel from such eminent and well respected Barbadian patriots as Senator Sir Roy Trotman, Senator Sir Henry Fraser, Senator Lady Carol Haynes, Senator John Watson, and Senator Sir Trevor Carmichael, to the effect that the Bill to amend the Police Act has such critical implications for the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of the Barbadian people that it should be subjected to a process of national consultation, the twelve Government Senators have simply ignored all pleas for a process of popular consultation, and have enacted the Bill into Law !
How ironic it is that a mere 24 hours after Ministers of the Freundel Stuart Administration made public pronouncements about a Commissioner of Police abusing his powers to carry out wiretapping of telephone conversations, the said Administration is proposing to place even more extreme power into the hands of the Commissioner of Police to — in tandem with the Attorney General– impose Curfews and Cordons on the people and communities of Barbados !
Under the newly amended Police Act, the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General will have the power not only to determine which areas of Barbados will be placed under Curfew, but also to determine the Curfew hours.
These two office-holders will therefore have the power to imprison thousands of Barbadians in their homes for up to 48 hours, or to prohibit thousands of Barbadians from returning to and accessing their homes over a 48 hour period.
In addition, the Police will have the power to cordon off areas of Barbados for eight (8) hours at a time, and to oblige any person who happens to be within the cordoned area to answer questions put to them by the Police. And so, the Citizen’s right to choose to remain silent is thrown out of the window !
The new law also gives the Police the right to search persons, motor-vehicles and homes within the Curfew area once a Police officer claims to have reasonable suspicion that the commission of any offence known to the law– no matter how minor or trivial that alleged offence might be — is intended to be committed. In effect, the Police will to all intents and purposes have full liberty to search persons, vehicles and homes as they please.
It is highly unlikely that this new piece of legislation will pass the test of Constitutionality once it is challenged in the Supreme Court of Barbados.
But that does not seem to bother either the DLP members of the House of Assembly nor the DLP members of the Senate ! These–after all — are the same legislators who, less than two years ago, enacted the The IMMIGRATION (BIOMETRICS) REGULATIONS 2015 are NULL, VOID and Un-Constitutional that stipulated that every Barbadian traveling from or returning to his or her own country had to be fingerprinted, and that Barbadians could actually be prevented from re-entering their own country if they refused to be fingerprinted.
These Regulations — it should be recalled — were found to be unconstitutional and were struck down by the Supreme Court of Barbados.
How tragic it is that the callous and stiff-necked Freundel Stuart Administration has seemingly learnt nothing from that most shameful episode in the history of the Parliament of Barbados.