Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Group
Under the amended statute, a junior police officer may issue an emergency protection order if he or she has reason to believe that such an order is necessary to ensure the safety of a person at risk. Low-ranking officers may also issue emergency protection orders without the consent of the persons at risk.
Among the other powers handed to the Royal Barbados Police Force is the authority to enter any premises without a warrant if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that an emergency protection order, an interim protection order or a final protection order is being breached. Officers will also be given the power to enter premises –– upon the invitation of a person resident there or independently –– if there is reasonable grounds to suspect that a person on the premises has suffered, or is in imminent danger of suffering, physical injury at the hands of some other person. Barbados Today, January 28th. 2016 (Neville Clarke)
The Mahogany Coconut Group welcomes the recently passed legislation in Barbados, which should have far reaching effects in making the law tougher against those who carry out acts of domestic violence. The MCG believes that such legislation is long overdue. However this is a case of “better late than never”.
Of course we expect that the legal fraternity, for political and other reasons, may very well find fault with some aspects of the bill. We therefore are not surprised, that there is already an attempt to portray the bill as some attack on democratic rights. There seems to be some concern that the Bill gives the police too much power.We beg to differ. As always, those who believe that the Act gives the police too much power, are displaying an acute ignorance, of the plight of those who are the victims of often brutal acts of domestic violence.
They fail to understand and accept that without the ability of law enforcement to “act on the spot”, victims are usually murdered. No concentration on or the scoring of cheap legal points can bring back a life! There are too many instances that reveal after the police are called, the victim refuses to press charges or are afraid of their private life being exposed in public. Too many victims suffer in silence and they end up in the cemetery.
Our initial response is that the new Domestic Violence legislation is a step, or should we say many steps, in the right direction. We can only hope that the law enforcement agencies, are not intimidated when carrying out their lawful duties. In small societies, there is always the risk of having to arrest a friend or a neighbour, who runs afoul of the law. They will also find themselves fighting and confronting deep cultural behaviours that over time are accepted as the norm.
There was a time when women who were daily beaten up by men, were told:” if he did not love yuh,(you) he would not beat yuh”. Hopefully those dark days are behind us. We should also remember that hundreds of incidents of domestic abuse remain unreported and unknown. Some mistakenly believe that it is the preserve of the lower economic groups. However, it is a known fact that domestic violence is found at all levels of society.
We therefore commend the government of Barbados for bringing such legislation to a reality. It is an important victory for all those organizations and citizens, who are seeking to eliminate all forms domestic violence, from their society.