The minister noted that the establishment of a crime desk, managed by well-trained officers, has allowed for the Royal Barbados Police Force to accord the “highest possible priority to visitors once a crime is involved”.
“I wish to make it absolutely clear that this is not true. Indeed it is my knowledge that where there are incidents of crime involving visitors to our island the highest priority is given to these cases and we offer no apology for this stance,” he claimed.
Brathwaite was speaking on Monday morning at the opening of a two-day Pan-Caribbean Police Conference, sponsored by the British High Commission entitled “Supporting Victims of Sexual Assault”.
Stating that he was not afraid to let the truth be known, the attorney general added that Barbados had no fear of disclosure and, on the contrary, ensured that visitors were offered the best support possible.
In addition, Brathwaite revealed that, while Barbados had not legislatively addressed victims’ rights, he told those gathered that he was of the opinion the “time was ripe for government to deal with this issue legislatively, so that victims and police as well as other officials involved in the processes, which flowed from a sexual assault, were clear about their respective roles”.
“As police officers, all of your investigations of sexual assault must be matched by sensitivity, confidentiality, dignity, respect and a commitment to professionalism since you will be the first point of contact with the victims of crime and will be required to provide steadfast support throughout the judicial process,” he said.
The attorney general stated that in the majority of cases the victims had no knowledge of the police or court process, especially if that person was a visitor to the island, and such mitigating factors as linguistics or cultural differences might pose a challenge to the victim as well as the police.
“It is imperative that during the investigative process that the victim is kept informed of the progress in the inquiry… she or he must be left with no doubt that their matter is being given the highest priority,” he stressed.
The workshop which concludes on Tuesday, will address such topics as: law enforcement in the Caribbean, the extent of the problem in the Caribbean and the United Kingdom and the Caribbean approach to sexual assault crime prevention.