Daily Archives: July 26, 2008

Coroner’s Inquests Can Take 25 Years In Barbados – Legalities Not A Priority With Successive Governments

Rule Of Law, Legalities Are Seldom A Priority On This Island

It is about priorities, and successive Barbados governments have traditionally spent money on show rather than necessities. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cricket parties while our hospital falls down and old women still haul water from the standpipes. We put a bright and shiny coat of paint on a public building while the raw sewerage from the toilets runs onto the beach.

Our governments buy new garbage trucks instead of ensuring that all government vehicles are properly maintained. We would rather change an engine than change the oil regularly and that analogy applies throughout our government and civil service.

This same neglect is evident in our law-enforcement and justice systems.

Successive Barbados governments have only paid lip-service to maintaining our police and justice systems – both in terms of funding, and in upholding the rule of law and other legal necessities that are the foundations of our society.

Look at the single issue of Coroner’s Inquests and you will see a prime example of the outrageous neglect that Barbados has suffered under for decades.

As Richard Goddard pointed out in his excellent article Police Jurisdiction and Authority, up until very recently, Barbados neglected to hold coroner’s inquests for hundreds of unusual or suspicious deaths. Some inquests were waiting for almost 30 years!

Think about how it looks to the outside world, and what it really means to a country when successive governments don’t bother to properly investigate and document hundreds of deaths.

The article shown above “Men’s Buddy Was Dead Drunk” was published in 2004 in the Nation News about the results of a Coroner’s Inquest held in 2004 into an unusual death that occurred in 1982 – some 22 years earlier.

Prior to about 2002, Barbados had no “coroner in charge” and after one was appointed with island-wide jurisdiction, the backlog of hundreds of cases was cleared up in three or four years. Let us be truthful with ourselves and admit that many of these old suspicious deaths were “rubber stamped” by the coroner. What else could be done with cases 20 years old?

But instead of a “fresh start”, we went back to our same old ways with chronic under-funding of police, the coroner’s office and other agencies that are supposed to play a role in ensuring that when someone dies on this island no unanswered questions remain.

Thompson Government Is Careless With The Deaths Of Citizens At The Hands Of Police

We also have no independent body to investigate the police when a death occurs in police custody or under circumstances involving police. Strange revelations surrounding the recent death of I’Akobi Maloney while with police highlights the carelessness of our government in protecting citizens from wrong-doing by those in authority. The police are investigating themselves with no independent oversight and our government has adopted a “hands off” policy.

We read in the Nation News that Assistant Commissioner of Police Seymour Cumberbatch told a press conference…

“Maloney, on request of the police, put back on his clothing and placed his haversack on his back and started to accompany officers away from the cliff. It was during this period the young man darted away and jumped over the cliff.”

Only one problem… the police gave the haversack back to Maloney’s mother, who showed it to reporters. The haversack hadn’t been in the water. No salt stains, no stuck-together papers, no ink running on notes.

The police say that I’Akobi Maloney ran from police, jumped over a cliff and then drowned while wearing the haversack – but Maloney’s mother showed reporters that the haversack had never been in the water.

How much longer are we going to allow the police to investigate themselves? How much longer until the David Thompson Government starts taking some leadership to bring accountability and proper process to the serious business of the deaths of citizens who are in the custody of police?

Further Reading

Nation News: More in the bag than meets the eye

Nation News: A Mother’s Advice

Barbados Free Press: Nation News Finally Discovers That Barbados Police Don’t Give A Damn About Rule Of Law

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

Barbados Integrity Laws – Some Folks Still Fooled Into Thinking Words Are Actions

“One of the major complaints against the new David Thompson administration in Barbados has been that, although it won power mainly by promising to do something about the entrenched corruption in the previous Owen Arthur administration, it had appeared to have forgotten the issue”

Janine Mendes-Franco quotes Don Mitchell MBE, on Harvard Law School’s Global Voices (link here)

Don Mitchell has been a voice for integrity in government for years – even before it was fashionable to say the words “integrity” or “conflicts of interest” – and he is nobody’s fool.

That said, his latest Corruption Free Anguilla article ‘Barbados’ about the continued promises but zero action by the Barbados DLP Government is too kind and optimistic. Mr. Mitchell has forgotten that this Barbados government promised to adopt a Ministerial Code on the first day it assumed office, but then did not.

Mr. Mitchell has forgotten that Prime Minister David Thompson could have declared on that first day that no government contracts would be issued to companies that are owned by the immediate family of a government official or where a government official has an interest in a company.

Prime Minister Thompson could have issued that order on the first day, and he could issue the order tomorrow if he was really serious about integrity in government. There is no need for him to wait for legislation, he could implement this single change as a matter of government policy and he could do so immediately.

This “Government Advisory Board” that Thompson appointed to “look into” integrity legislation has no address, no phone number, no email address and no public face or method by which citizens can communicate with it.

It is smoke on a windy day.

Barbados Free Press will continue to remind people that words are only words. Words are not action.

As to transparency and conflicts of interest, one of David Thompson’s first official acts as a newly-elected Prime Minister was to borrow the corporate jet of a company that does business with the Barbados government – and to refuse to release any details of the costs and arrangements.

When it comes to integrity in government, David Thompson’s only real action has been to create a conflict of interest by borrowing corporate bizjets from friends who do business with the Government of Barbados.

Respectfully, we suggest that Don Mitchell should re-write his article.

Further Reading

Corruption Free Anguilla blog: Barbados

Barbados Free Press Articles…

July 5, 2008: Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson Fools Lindsey Grant – St. Kitts and Nevis People’s Action Movement Leader

June 6, 2008: Will Rayside Construction Be Awarded Barbados Government Contracts To Thank Leroy Parris For The Use Of The Bizjet?

June 3, 2008: Barbados Government’s 140 Days Of Broken Promises – In Four Easy Steps

April 17, 2008: Barbados Prime Minister Thompson’s Weasel Words On Integrity Legislation – No Guts. No Leadership. No Personal Transparency From Our Jet-Setter PM

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption