BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday October 31, 2017 – Barbados’ Acting Commissioner of Police is calling for witness protection legislation and safe houses to prevent accused persons from tampering with witnesses.
Oral Williams says not enough is being done to protect vulnerable witnesses and it is time to enact appropriate legislation to deal with people who directly or indirectly seek to influence witnesses, potential witnesses, law enforcement officers or court officials, by threats or injury.
“I believe the system has not addressed this and similar areas, given what has been happening and is likely to continue….I think that at this stage we in Barbados are fortunate to have among us members of the public who are still willing to come forward and tell the courts what they heard or what they have observed,” he said.
“However, I have also been advised that there are other persons who come forward and give the information but are reluctant to give written statements to the police and they are unwilling to come to court for fear of reprisals.”
Williams stressed that this practice needed to be “remedied with serious administrative and criminal sanctions to follow”.
“Any programme that is put in place must go beyond the disposal of the case. It is my belief that there is a case for witness protection legislation in Barbados and…for appropriate cases, the provision for safe houses with appropriate rules and regulations in place,” he recommended.
The Acting Commissioner was speaking at yesterday’s opening of the first annual conference and workshop of the Department of Public Prosecutions, themed ‘Strengthening our Capacity to Combat Cybercrimes and Other Organized Crimes’ and covering areas pertaining to cybercrime and special measures for giving of evidence by vulnerable witnesses.
Also addressing the conference, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said that with crime in Barbados becoming more organized and with greater threats to cybersecurity, efforts are underway to establish a National Cybersecurity Strategy to provide the island with “a robust cyber defence”.
The new framework, he said, would include a revision and revamping of legislation, including the Computer Misuse Act, the Electronics Transactions Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Copyright Act.
The Attorney General also hinted at the possibility of new legislation being introduced, such as the Interception of Communications Act.
“What we are faced with as a region, and as a country, is real. We have seen more cyber-related attacks on our government infrastructure and our private infrastructure. We must be on the cutting edge in terms of our defence,” he stated, noting that the Telecommunications Unit was presently working to ensure Barbados had a more secure cybersecurity platform.
Brathwaite said Barbados also needed to do additional work in the area of transnational organized crime, and gave the commitment that the Civil Asset Forfeiture legislation would be before Parliament by the end of November.