Europe remains concerned about the treatment of gays here, as well as the continued existence of the death penalty on Barbados’ statute books, the continent’s top diplomat has said.
Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Ambassador Mikael Barfod has also complained about the lack of effective domestic violence legislation, increasing child abuse cases and extraordinarily long delays in delivering justice in the courts.
Barfod told a press luncheon at Champers, Rockley, Christ Church yesterday afternoon he was unhappy with the way members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were treated here and called for action to end discrimination against the community.
“Therefore, the EU continues to advocate for repealing of the legislation which discriminates against at LBGT persons.
“We also worry about the discrimination of same-sex consensual relations of all kinds,” he said.
Barfod, however, gave the assurance that the EU was not prescribing any model for same-sex relationships, stressing that such a direction was best left to Barbadians to decide.
The European diplomat also repeated his previously stated objection to the death penalty, saying that while Government had taken the Offences Against the Person Bill to Parliament to remove the mandatory death sentence, he was disappointed that the death penalty had not been abolished.
“We are very keen that the next step be taken as well . . . that is the legal moratorium on the executions. And ultimately the goal is clear, and that is to see that Barbados abolishes the death penalty,” Barfod said.
Domestic violence and child abuse also occupied the ambassador’s attention. He criticized the “impunity” with which Barbadians engage in domestic violence, even while he admitted that the number of related deaths were falling – nine in 2013 and three last year.
He also questioned why no one had yet to face justice for the suspicious deaths of three children.
This year alone, Shamar Weekes, 12, of Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy.
was found hanging at home on May 14, his death ruled a suicide; three-year-old Leyla Lewis passed away on August 28 after being taken to hospital with bruises, and six-year-old Jahan King died in hospital on June 29 after sustaining bruises to his head.
“Unfortunately, up to this date, [there have been] no arrests in any one of these cases,” he remarked.
Barfor also took on the judicial system, complaining about lengthy delays. He said it was not good enough for cases to be delayed for 25 years or persons to be on remand for as many as five years.
“When you are on remand for more than five years, surely we cannot talk about normal justice. We therefore call for speedy trials for those on remand,” he said.
The EU ambassador called for innovative ways to ease the “gridlock” within the criminal justice system and recommended a parole system, along with a rehabilitative programme to support released prisoners and reduce high incidences of recidivism. (EJ)