Registrar sees need for electronic monitors, extended counselling
ACKNOWLEDGING the significant strides made in Barbados over the years to address domestic violence, Registrar of the Supreme Court Barbara Cooke-Alleyne believes there is still a lot of work to be done.
Her comments came on Saturday as she delivered remarks at an event hosted by Soroptimist International Barbados in recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence at the Sweetfield Manor. This year’s theme is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women & Girls”.
One of the areas which the former magistrate says could make a difference is the introduction of electronic monitoring in Barbados. She said if the order is made for the violent offender, the monitor would be used by the police to locate the movement of that person and nab them before doing any harm.
“That is very important. It will cost money to get there. We have it on our books for criminal matters,” she revealed, adding that she is conscious that there is currently no funds to roll out this initiative, but expressed hope that the international community would assist in the introduction of electronic monitors.
Additionally, the registrar believes that legal aid should be available to victims of domestic abuse. “Persons who need to be represented and might come to the court and don’t have a lawyer, ‘but my partner does, and I feel overwhelmed, intimidated and I can’t afford one’. I know legal aid is bursting at the seams, but we have to look and see if that could be done.”
Cooke-Alleyne also suggested that false accusations should not be criminalised. “I might fear that I go to the court and said I have been beaten, you may not believe me and I’d be charged for that. We make sure we protect persons from thinking they could be abused in that manner by the Court because the law said you told a lie on the person, even though I know it’s true… You can be penalised for that,” she lamented.
She also explained that counselling is normally for a short period, but some cases it should be extended. “I think we have to look at doing it more long-term; some persons can be counselled in six months and improve, some may need longer … which means more money for the Welfare Department.”
The registrar reiterated that Barbados has come a long way in terms of legislation, policies and programmes but still has further to go, suggesting that conflict resolution ought to be expanded in secondary school and even at the primary school level, to show children there are other ways to deal with problems, other than retaliating with their hands.