Enforcing Environmental Laws In Barbados – Forget The Police, We Need Specialists

According to the Minister of Energy and the Environment Elizabeth Thompson, the Cabinet recently approved “a comprehensive Environmental Management Act for Barbados”. (Barbados Advocate article link here.)

While we are pleased to see the Government finally taking steps to provide Barbados with modern and enforcible environmental laws, nobody should get too excited because Cabinet approval is only the first step in a process that will take many months or even years before we see actual law in place. After 12 years of not one single environmental dumping charge laid, we will not hold our breath for this present government to produce actual results. Barbados has come to expect talk, studies and more announcements like this one. Real results? No.

But as long as we have Minister Thompson and the Owen Arthur government thinking about the environment, let’s talk about enforcement of environmental laws. Here is our position…

Forget About Using The Police To Enforce Environmental Laws

For at least the last year, and perhaps much longer, Environment Minister Thompson has been going on and on about how she wrote two letters – one to the police and one to the previous Attorney General – to try and have some attention paid to enforcing environmental laws. In February, she mused about having the police go undercover at illegal dumpsites. In May, she blamed the police for not trying to catch people dumping garbage by the roadside, and just last week she was again whining in public about those two letters she wrote a year ago.

Liz – get over it. The Royal Barbados Police Force is not coming to the party. The police are currently 130 officers under strength, violent crime is escalating in Barbados as it is everywhere, and they are busy preparing for Cricket World Cup 2007 – the largest and certainly the most demanding security operation they have ever undertaken. And that is even without considering that some of the participating nations near and far are hotbeds of Muslim terrorism.

The police are not interested in environmental investigations and if they are somehow ordered to act, they will only provide lip-service and feign activity. The police rightly believe that they lack the specialized knowledge and training to enforce environmental law – and that their priorities have to be elsewhere – violent crime, public order and safety.

So forget about using the police to enforce environmental laws. The police might agree to an occasional secondary support role, but to expect anything more is simply unrealistic – and is not the best solution anyway.

Barbados Needs Trained Environmental Enforcement Specialists

The Ministry of the Environment should form it’s own Environmental Law Enforcement Squad to investigate violations, gather evidence, bring charges before the court and to work with the prosecution to prepare and present cases at trial. This is what is done in most other jurisdictions because only a specialized environmental enforcement unit can build the necessary longterm knowledge, training and experience to be effective.

barbados-bees.jpg

Introducing the B.E.E.S. – Barbados Environmental Enforcement Squad

“Obey Environmental Laws Or You Will BEE Stung”

Here is the outline of a plan… (Thanks to our advisor “H”)

* Start with just two investigators – one older hand with wisdom and one younger and full of energy, but both quality people. These two will be the core of the “Barbados Environmental Enforcement Squad” (BEES).

* Assign one prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office to handle all environmental prosecutions. This person will also advise BEES during investigations, so the proper evidence and evidence gathering techniques will be used.

* If laws need to be changed to allow the BEES to lay charges, do so. Empower them to handle their own charges upon consultation with the AG’s office.

* Institute a training programme for the BEES. Train them in how to properly gather evidence, and to prepare and present a case in court. Set up short, but regular meetings with the Attorney General’s environmental prosecutor so the BEES and the AG’s office continue working towards the common cause.

* Have the police appoint a liaison officer to assist in training the BEES in evidence gathering and case presentation. Perhaps allow the BEES to attend police training classes in evidence gathering and case presentation. Once again, set up regularly scheduled short meetings between the BEES and the police liaison officer. Let the people get to know each other personally and they will help each other… works every time!

* Send the BEES to visit other Environmental Enforcement Squads to observe and learn. Have them visit real working environmental enforcement units in a few countries. They will make friends and learn techniques and strategies that would take years to develop on their own. This will provide a huge jump-start for the BEES and make them more effective sooner.

* Start Right Now even if effective laws are not yet in place. Even if the BEES were created today, it will take time for the squad to become trained and connected. Put them in place now and the learning can begin. The BEES can also start to gather evidence and intelligence about major polluters so they are ready to sting as better laws come into force.

* Choose the initial prosecutions carefully and win every one. Quality, not quantity is the goal, and this should be possible if the AG’s prosecutor is advising at every stage of the first cases – right from complaint, through investigation, charges and case presentation in court. If the BEES become known for having a 100% conviction rate, offenders will start to clean up and modify behaviours with just a phone call.

Barbados Needs Enforcible, Modern Environmental Laws

The Barbados Ministry of the Environment hasn’t laid a charge in 12 years, and a big part of that might be a lack of enforcible laws. The Owen Arthur government has had 12 years to create and pass effective environmental laws, but has only just announced this week that some sort of process has begun.

Good.

Faster, please.

post by Marcus, with a little help from friend “H”.

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9 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Environment, Island Life, Politics & Corruption

9 responses to “Enforcing Environmental Laws In Barbados – Forget The Police, We Need Specialists

  1. West Side Davie

    Really good post Marcus. Who is H?

  2. Employ 100 strong young people. Pay them each $160 per 8 hour day.

    Yes its more than Carpenters and masons getting paid but you have to pay if you want results.

    Supply skips and trucks to haul garbage from Gullies to a dump.

    In 15 days Gullies clean.Old fridges ,tires etc gone. Labour cost $240,000.

    Less than the cost of building Toilets on the Beach

    Nuh lotta long talk.

  3. honeybee

    You may have to do this often, though.

  4. BFP

    A reader writes…

    Recently discovered your blog and enjoy reading it nearly every day.
    Especially like the supporting evidence you tend to provide on each topic.

    In the article:

    Enforcing Environmental Laws In Barbados – Forget The Police, We Need
    Specialists Thursday, June 29th, 2006

    you say

    “violent crime is escalating in Barbados as it is everywhere”

    and this has me wondering. Do you have statistics to support this
    comment?

    BFP Replies…

    Thanks for participating. Our readers questions are a kind of self-auditing process that is lacking in the traditional media.

    As to our backup for “violent crime escalating in Barbados as it is everywhere”, we see several links that support this statement… Commissioner of Police Dottin recently spoke about the “spate of criminal activity especially involving the use of guns…”

    http://bararchive.bits.baseview.com/archive_detail.php?archiveFile=./pubfiles/bar/archive/2006/June/11/LocalNews/21178.xml&start=0&numPer=20&keyword=violent+crime&sectionSearch=&begindate=1%2F1%2F1994&enddate=12%2F31%2F2006&authorSearch=&IncludeStories=1&pubsection=&page=&IncludePages=1&IncludeImages=1&mode=allwords&archive_pubname=Daily+Nation%09%09%09

    On June 7, 2006, a Nation News article quoted Commissioner Dottin stating that crime was up 14% for the first 5 months of 2006 – and he specifically talked about the increase in robberies and “pack robberies”

    A Nation News article on May 21, 2006 talked about “the rise in violent crime” in the entire Caribbean.

    http://bararchive.bits.baseview.com/archive_detail.php?archiveFile=./pubfiles/bar/archive/2006/May/21/Editorial/19978.xml&start=0&numPer=20&keyword=violent+crime&sectionSearch=&begindate=1%2F1%2F1994&enddate=12%2F31%2F2006&authorSearch=&IncludeStories=1&pubsection=&page=&IncludePages=1&IncludeImages=1&mode=allwords&archive_pubname=Daily+Nation%09%09%09

    There is lots online if you google “barbados rising violence” or other like phrases.

    Even the Canadian Broadcasting News is quoted about rising violence in the region in an article about Barbados seeking to restore the death penalty…

    http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/06/20/caribbean-death-penalty.html

    I hope this provides you with some support for our statement.

    Thanks

    Robert

  5. Comment Maker

    Gee Robert,

    I’m impressed! 🙂

    No argument from me on this article. (try not to faint from the shock!)

  6. SolidRock

    Hi,

    Does any one have a chronological history of the south coast sewage projects implementation? Essentially successive contractors who were fired by the GOB excavated my property and caused great dislocation. An IADB report I have already states that the project was completed 7 years late and experienced a cost overrun of 90%.

    Much appreciated

    SolidRock

  7. John

    SolidRock

    Google “south coast sewage project” and see what various people were saying along the way. Here is a selection from 1998 to 2003. Seems not out of line with what you suggest.

    A. September 3, 1998

    http://barbadosphotogallery.com/updates/update3sep98.html

    South Coast Sewage Project
    ————————–
    Miniser of Health, Liz Thompson, announced on Monday that Contract Two is about to start on September 15 and the great work should end around the middle of year 2000.

    The minister could not say what the cost overruns would be…

    The original Contract with Fomento Y Cubiertas was terminated on January 2. The new contractors are Kier International and Why-Dig Technology. The minister said the new companies have been “sensitised” about the problems with the last contractor…. Geee, Liz, you politicians are something else..
    I said in previous news, EITHER Government was deliberately “conned” OR the last contractor was totally INCOMPETENT.

    B. 30th September, 1998

    http://barbadosphotogallery.com/updates/update30sep98.html

    (Late breaking News – Management at both places are negotiating with the Union since this was written… all workers back on the job.)

    The Barbados Workers Union is ready for another showdown with
    Royal Westmoreland, it seems that management in an attempt to stave off
    “Unionisation” at their facility, turned a foreman into an “independant
    contractor” thus making all the workers under his supervision technically
    NOT employees of Royal Westmoreland…. it appears they would do almost
    anything to avoid recognizing the BWU as the bargaining agent for the
    workers.

    South Coast Sewage Project contractor, Kier International, is now in trouble with the BWU as well… almost 200 workers have downed tools to protest “low wages and unhealthy working conditions”… and Kier management wants to talk to Senator LeRoy Trotman, General Secretary, privately… but Trotman has said, “That’s not the way the Union does business. I consider this action reprehensible in the extreme.”

    The Project is now six weeks behind schedule.

    C. January 2001

    http://www.centralbank.org.bb/Publications/press_jan01_jan_main.shtml?OpenPage

    Economic Press Releases
    Press Release January 2001

    REVIEW OF THE ECONOMY FOR THE YEAR 2000

    For the year 2000, total spending by Government was up 7.7% and was
    reflected in an increase in both current (7.1%) and capital (10.6%) items. Growth in current expenditure mainly represented higher wages and salaries. There were also significantly greater outlays on goods and services and interest payments. The increase in capital expenditure was due to intensified activity on a number of projects, including Edutech 2000, road repairs, the South Coast Sewage project and the expansion of the Grantley Adams International Airport.

    D. DLP Manifesto 2003

    9. Fix the ticking time-bombs of poor sanitation. We will strengthen the Engineering Division; complete the South Coast Sewage Project, initiate the West Coast Sewage Project, and upgrade the fleet at the Sanitation Service authority and improve garbage collection.

    http://www.cohobblopot.org/vob/man_dlp199911.php

    http://www.cohobblopot.org/vob/manifesto.php

    E. No Date, a summary of part of what we got

    http://www.ae.ca/projects/wstwtr/Barbados1.pdf

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