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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24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

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

  1. Anon

    Oh, tell me about it!

    I had a friend who commited suicide while a patient of the Mental hospital in Black Rock and it took twenty three years before his Coroner’s Inquest was done.

    It was only done last year.

  2. Tony Hall

    BFP,
    The two statements below are so conflicting. I must agree with you that the police has to come forward and give clarification otherwise the credibility of that organisation will be further eroded.

    ” 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.”

    *********************

    BFP says,

    Tony, I’m afraid you and a whole lot of other people just don’t get what transparency and accountability is.

    It is not about the police coming forward to explain something when they have been “caught out”, it is about implementing procedures that ensure effective civilian oversight of the police, and where a death has occurred in police custody, it is about having an independent investigative body performing and controlling the investigation.

    We cannot have the police investigating themselves in major incidents where there is the potential that there has been wrong doing. You cannot expect senior police investigators to effectively investigate their friends that they have worked with for years.

  3. Tony Hall

    BFP,
    I do not disagree with you but we (the citizens) are at fault because we have not put enough pressure on the respective Gov’t agency to have the Civilian Complaints Board up and running effectively. We (the citizens) only do it when some close relative or friend is affected.

  4. 329.18

    Cuh dear…they coulda shoulda at least dipped the haversack in sea-water
    before giving it to the mother!

    Not tooo smart, are they?!
    Maybe they just doan care.

    Welcome to Africa – 1,800 miles West.

  5. .240

    Aaahh..the illegal drugs trade!
    Dontcha luvvit?

  6. ru4real

    BFP says
    We cannot have the police investigating themselves in major incidents where there is the potential that there has been wrong doing. You cannot expect senior police investigators to effectively investigate their friends that they have worked with for years.
    ———————————————————
    I agree it makes a mockery of the whole procedure.
    Who in their right mind is going to expect the police to do the dirty on their colleagues?

  7. John

    Tony Hall

    That is why being our brother’s keeper makes so much sense and why the golden rule is really golden!!

  8. Thomas Gresham

    I agree with BFP. In the UK whenever anyone is shot by the police or dies in custody there is an automatic investigation by the Police Complaints Authority, irrespective of whether there is a complaint.

    The UK is far from perfect as the sad case of Charles De Mendez who got shot for looking Asian, but this is a rule we should adopt. I would even have the investigation done by an external Commonwealth police force to add real independence. Nationalists will object, but I think we have found that it is otherwise hard to guarantee independence.

  9. crossroads

    When I read the article today with regards to the Maloney death I was shocked at the conflicting stories. I am pleased to see a response here BFP. This madness has to stop, and it will when the residents of this island start to come together and put some pressure on our elected goverment.

  10. Anon

    I put all of the blame for these problems with the Police and the “Justice System” squarely on the shoulders of the old media, The Nation, Advocate, Starcom, CBC, The Truth, The Daily News when they were in exsistence etc..

    Whatever garbage the Police especially give them they accept it without any conditions. They then sell the same hog-wash to the public as if it was the Gospel according to Saint John. The old media do no follow up of any these events. The Police top brass are fully aware that the media will not investigate anything relating to the Police. That is why there are so many Police Killers in the Royal Barbados Police Force. They kill without any consequences to themselves. In other words they are a law unto themselves.

    Policemen and women in Barbados are notorious liars. It has been this way for decades. Right now the soup of the day is “I’Akobi Maloney” but unfortunely he is only one many, many citizens who have perished at the hands of the Royal Barbados Police Force while in custody. Not a single Killer Policeman has ever been brought to “justice”.

  11. Tony Hall

    Anon,
    Keep beating the morale of the Police into ground by calling them liars and killers and see where this will get us. As I said before it is the citizens who have to put pressure on the respective agencies. When it is somebody else who gets hurt or killed scant attention is paid but when it hits home everybody want things done immediately. The political directorate of the last 14 years has been responsible for the condition the Force finds itself in now.

  12. Anon

    Tony Hall

    So you agree to give the Police a free hand, let them steal, lie, and kill to their hearts delight without facing justice like the rest of us.

    The only time that I can remember a Policeman in Barbados going to Jail for wrong doing in the last thirty years, was a former treasurer of the Police Credit Union who used to live in Black Rock who was putting Members funds in his pockets. The other Policemen quickly arrested him and put his backside in Jail after a very speedy trial.

    My point is that the Police in Barbados only act with any resolution if it is a matter concerning the Police themselves. When citizens are beaten to death by the Police such as “Al Capone” in the Black Rock Police Station, Who the hell cares? When members of the Royal Police Force steal citizens property as repoted by DAVID SIMMONS , who the hell cares? When members of the Royal Barbados Police pick targets and send criminals to raid the places and split THE loot, who the hell cares? When the current SSU escorts drug shipments to safe houses as is being done right now, who the hell cares?

    As Tony Hall SAYS wants give them a free hand. Don’t call for accountability!

  13. J

    In this case either the haversack is lying or Assistant Commissioner Seymour Cumberbatch is lying.

    Since both cannot be telling the truth, then the haversack has to be lying.

    Since Assistant Commissioner Seymour Cumberbatch is an honourable man.

    Isn’t he?

  14. Sargeant

    Not to make light of this obviously tragic situation for the Maloney family….. but if the police said that the deceased jumped into the sea with his haversack and the mother of the deceased on receiving and examining the haversack observed a noticeable lack of water damage to the said haversack and the contents therein and since we know that the police do not lie and are incapable of lying the only conclusion that any critical thinking individual can reasonably arrive at is …. the haversack was waterproof

  15. ru4real

    Just like the alibi of the police!

  16. Devils Advocate

    Most people heard ……Rasta……Cove Bay…….drug deal and came to the conclusion that the police had done their duty (as is always the case when Rasta is involved)
    The only time anyone became interested was when they heard……University student……….Engineering……….not known to smoke weed……decent family

    If you are Rasta, from the ghetto and killed by the police everyone assumes…….the Police were right
    Remember the infamous ‘lock down’ of the Pine………the ‘ordinary citizens’ of Barbados were saying ‘it is about time de police do something bout dem criminals in de Pine’
    Would anyone care about this if I’Akobi was not a University Graduate?

  17. Anon

    A source has informed me that Darwin Dottin has been sent on leave by the Service Commision. Bertie Hinds is now acting as the Chief Policeman.

    I do not know how this will work out as Bertie has been a rogue in the The Royal Barbados Police Force most of his life. Rank and file Policemen will remember this and will throw that in his dish when the time is right.

    See what I mean when compromised policemen reach the top of the Royal Barbados Police Force.

    Do not expect any disciplinary miracles!

  18. Pingback: Suspicious Death Brings World Attention Upon Royal Barbados Police Force « Barbados Free Press

  19. khadija

    I would like to know, who made that call to the police, who was on the look out for Mr. maloney. I have said before, this is deeper than you all think, It was the perfect opprotunity for the slaves to execute their MASTERS orders. What can i say about BIM, talking animals. They try to do the same to me,, I will tell my story soon.

  20. ru4real

    Would anyone care about this if I’Akobi was not a University Graduate?
    ————————————————-

    Probably not, but he was and had no previous police history and a family that loved him and want to know the truth.

  21. ru4real

    com’on BFP why all this moderation?

    ******************

    BFP says (exasperated that you don’t READ THE FINE MANUAL at the top)

    The fact that some of your comments get through automatic moderation and some don’t tells you that it is not “we” who are moderating, but the computer. When we wake up, we approve your comments.

    Why do some comments make it through the computer moderation and some don’t?

    READ THE FFFFFFFFFfine MANUAL.

    Thank you.

    😉

  22. Pingback: I’Akobi Maloney Inquest Verdict On Friday, April 24, 2009 - Coroner’s Court, Bridgetown Barbados « Barbados Free Press

  23. what i say it not going to get printed this web site print only what they want the people to see so here we go as long as there is no one to police the police coruption and deth of citizians will continued

  24. the day is comming when police officers will be indited no one is to blame but the prime minister when election time come every one should vote independent or dont vote at all