MSJ political leader David Abdulah said the Prime Minister cannot dodge crime as an issue on which the population will judge the Government.
At a news conference at the MSJ's headquarters in San Fernando, Abdulah rejected Dr Rowley's comment in a CNC3 television interview that people should not judge his government on murders alone.
He said one of a government's main responsibilities is to provide safety and security to the population. Against this background, Abdulah said, Government's ability to deal with crime and violence is something "it has to be judged on."
He also said the Opposition UNC cannot condemn the PNM on crime, because it failed, as part of the UNC-led PP coalition, to make any positive impact on crime between May 2010 and September 2015.
Abdulah accused National Security Minister Stuart Young of "ghost-blaming" when he spoke about people getting criminals to commit random shootings to destabilise the society.
He said these statements were "highly inflammatory and irresponsible, and all they do is fuel speculation and confusion in the population. He urged Young to refrain from making such statements unless he can provide evidence to support them. Abdulah said Young should stick to developing policies that will help the police to curb crime.
He disagreed with Young's argument about Barbados having a law which denies bail to people charged with firearm and firearm-related offences for two years to justify the Bail Amendment (No 2) Bill 2019. This legislation seeks to deny bail for up to 120 days to those found with prohibited weapons such as bombs, grenades and automatic weapons, or trafficking in such weapons if no evidence is presented during this period.
"Barbados is a different society," Abdulah said.
He reiterated that the Bail Bill was repressive because just as it could achieve its stated objectives and keep criminals off the streets, it could also be used to unjustly incarcerate innocent people. Abdulah said the right balance needs to be struck when it comes to this legislation.
The bill was passed in the Senate on November 19, 2019 . The House of Representatives began debate on the bill on November 27. But the debate was stopped after the Opposition refused to support the bill.
The Law Association rejected the bill, claiming it sacrifices key constitutional tenets by infringing the presumption of innocence, empowering the police to deprive people of liberty and breaching the doctrine of separation of powers, instead of tackling the root causes of crime.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has said parts of the association’s statement were scandalous, and there were safeguards in the legislation.
Former Criminal Bar Association vice-president and Speaker Nizam Mohammed has called upon the opposing sides in the debate on the Bail Bill to drop their adversarial stances and work together in the interest of the public.