Patterson laments govt’s inaction on web shops
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Oct 11, 2013
Christian Council President Rev. Dr. Ranford Patterson expressed disappointment yesterday over the “hard work” church leaders put into the Vote No campaign ahead of the January referendum only to have the status quo remain nearly nine months after the vote.
Patterson spoke at a pastors’ forum on crime at Salem Baptist Church that was organized by the Ministry of National Security.
“We worked real hard,” Patterson said. “The government told us that whatever the decision of the people is, it will be the will of the government.”
He urged Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage to close web shops if they are illegal and to ensure that all laws are enforced.
“We cannot be selective, minister, on enforcement,” Patterson said. “If it’s illegal to operate a strip club in The Bahamas you arrest the strippers and the owners of the clubs.
“If gambling is illegal in our country we expect the same level of enforcement.
“That’s all I’m asking. If it’s illegal let’s deal with it. If it’s not illegal then we move on. Those things that are illegal in this country, minister, we need to deal with them. We cannot turn a blind eye to some stuff because the criminals are watching.”
The referendum asked voters if they supported the regulation and taxation of web shops and the creation of a national lottery.
The majority of people who voted said no to both questions.
A case is pending in the Supreme Court to determine whether web shops can legally engage in gaming activities.
Last month, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade renewed calls for all web shops to cease their illegal gaming activities and warned that police could act at any time.
Nearly 300 pastors showed up at the forum yesterday and gave several suggestions to help the crime fight.
Bishop Simeon Hall called on the government to divide New Providence into seven areas where focused community programs would be implemented.
Henry Francis, a pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries, suggested police give churches a list of crime “hot spots” so they have a better idea of the communities to pray for.
Pastor Trent Davis, of Golden Gates Ministries, called on the government to strengthen the witness protection program, implement stiff minimum mandatory sentences for gun possession and a curfew for minors.
Nottage told the pastors that the government needs their partnership in order to properly address the crime problem.
He told reporters after the forum that some of the pastors’ suggestions may be incorporated into the government’s national crime plan.
“We are going to sit down, go through them, see which of them we would be able to implement,” Nottage said. “But what I intend to do is work with the pastors because we have to get these churches involved in this whole question of crime.
“Crime is a social problem and it has to do with people’s behavior, value systems, and the church is at the core of that. So I am serious when I ask them to become partners.”
In August, the government held a town hall meeting on crime.
Another public forum is planned for next week Thursday at Abundant Life Church.