Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite.
BEEFED UP SECURITY
Enhanced training for all working in border security in this country, including postal workers; the scanning of all containers entering the Bridgetown Port and the enhanced use of scanners and security cameras at all port of entry are measures that Government will be pursuing to help ensure the safety and security of this country.
So says Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. He indicated yesterday as he delivered the feature address at the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Third Quarterly General Meeting at the Hilton Resort, that Barbados is going to sign onto the regional advance cargo information system, which will allow officials to track all cargo coming into this country, and for “special attention” to be paid cargo which requires it.
Touching on the issue of cameras at the ports of entry, as he responded to a question from the audience, the Attorney General stated that Cabinet has instructed the Minister responsible “to do all within his power” to have cameras installed at all the ports of entry as soon as possible. The AG, maintaining that the matter is one of national security, disclosed that a security audit has already been done showing where the gaps exist at the air and seaports.
“There should be no reason why customs officers, the trade unions or anyone should be against what we consider to be a national security matter. No reason whatsoever. It wasn’t done in the past because there were some petty arguments… What happens if an officer wants to do something private? All kinds of pettiness etc. Those days are past, it has to be done, given the level of gun violence we are seeing in this country it has to be done, and we intend to get it done,” he said to a rousing round of applause.
His comments came as he noted that there is also an “untidy situation” at the ports of entry, in respect of the jurisdictions of the police and Customs that has to be addressed. He made the point as he used the example of the Commissioner of Police, who he noted cannot give instruction to junior customs officers working at either the air or seaports.
“That concerns us. We reckon that in fact in modern Barbados that we should move towards a situation where there is equality among the security forces, even at our ports of entry. We have this untidy situation that Customs has responsibility for border security and of course revenue collection and the police have no power. But anytime there is a discovery of drugs or anything they call the police; they call the police and say you take over. But then you have the situation where a police officer can be there and see a customs officer doing foolishness, I am not saying that this happens, but seeing a customs officers doing foolishness and he has no jurisdiction whatsoever,” he lamented.
As such, he said they are proposing to look at the relevant section within the Customs Act, to see if it does not need to be modernised, giving equality to all border security officers at ports of entry. (JRT)