Parliament should unite in fight against crime – MPs
PUBLIC SECTOR AGENCIES and the personnel in them have been put on notice that they will be held accountable for failing to deal effectively with reported cases of gender and or domestic violence.
The gauntlet was thrown down by Minister for Gender Affairs, Youth, Social Development, and the Family, Orando Brewster.
“Since January, I have asked my ministry to make sure that all of the governmental institutions across the country- the schools, the health centres, the police stations- make sure that they are aware that there is a Domestic Violence Act, and there are consequences for perpetrators of violence. And if the police for example, they do not do their part, they will be held accountable as well.”
Brewster was responding to questions posed by SEARCHLIGHT last Friday, May 20 during the orange protest at the decommissioned Arnos Vale airstrip spearheaded by students and staff of the Girls’ High School and involving the St. Vincent Grammar School.
“I am a father, I also a son, I have a mother, I have a brother, I have sisters and, it is never a good feeling to see anyone lose their life. It has highlighted, once again, the need for us to come together as a nation to be our brothers and sisters keepers,” minister Brewster told this paper’s reporter.
He said this is very important, “because it takes more than an individual to raise a child, it takes a village, it takes a town, it takes to an extent an entire country to raise a child,” the minister pointed out.
“ I say this because as a child, you will interact with many persons whether it’s in your village, whether it’s in your school, they might be from a different area, your teachers, and we must look closely at some of the flaws that we are seeing in our society, why we are having persons dead from tragic circumstances, for example, the seven-year-old Lenny,” the minister added.
“Based on some of the reports that I got, he was out sometimes late at night. He sleeps here, he sleeps there, and as parents, we must play a role; …a society should not see a seven-year-old out late hours in the night, into the morning and not inquire as to where his or her parents are. Why are you here? And that is why I said it is not only a duty- the duty of the parents, but society has a role to play in making sure that we look after our younger ones who are growing up.”
Commenting on the death of Precious Williams, minister Brewster said: “… it really pains my heart that this senseless act of violence has to come to the doorstep of that family. No one should lose their life under such circumstances; no one and we must make a stand”.
“We must make a stand and a firm stand to say it is not okay for our women and girls to be abused. Whether it’s physically, verbally or emotionally, we must put an end to this. And this is not
one hand coming on board to say, well, let’s look into the violence, but we need everyone…we need everybody to play a part in this,” Brewster added.
The minister was standing alongside the Parliamentary Representative for East Kingstown, Fitzgerald Bramble in whose constituency the decomposing body of 17-year-old Precious Williams was found in a blue bag.
“Let me first of all endorse what minister Brewster said; this is a national problem,” Bramble said. “We have to try to figure out why this is happening. It is easy for us to say oh, this is not good and then all that, and that’s fine, that’s fine. There must be a reason why our society, why our country is where it is today. And as a result of that, we all have to be involved in the solution,” the constituency representative said. “Talking is good; yes, we need to have conversations but I think we also need to go beyond that now. The time has long passed, for us to go beyond that,” he emphasised. “It does not make sense we sit there and point fingers at each other, but that does not solve the problem,” he added. “…I think this supersedes any kind of partisan politics.
This is a problem that we have to come together and address …across the island’s parliament, we have to, and I am willing and ready to do that from where I sit as an opposition MP. And I do not want to speak for the minister but I know him well enough to know that he would also be amenable to that bipartisan approach to solving this problem.”
Bramble further said “… there are so many different issues that must be addressed and that is why it is so important to understand that everybody, all the actors must be involved including the young people. So I am willing… I am ready.” The two Members of Parliament are agreed that there needs to be a joint approach in Parliament to give leadership collectively to the fight against crime.