Is there Rastafari profiling in Barbados?
The Royal Barbados Police Force has its work to accomplish. However, according to the democratic rule of law, when the actions of the State violate the constitutional rights of citizens, redress is due regardless of religious expression of the citizens.
More evidence of Rastafari profiling by the Royal Barbados Police Force was demonstrated in a public announcement concerning a man who is wanted for questioning in connection with serious criminal matters. This announcement, which is dated May 4, 2010 on the CBC Evening News and May 5, 2010 in the Barbados Advocate, unmistakably “profiles” this wanted man as “with Rastafarian hairstyle to shoulder length”. This is one general instance of Rastafari stigmatisation by a law enforcement agency.
The announcement categorically incites and perpetuates a suspicion on Rastafarians.
There is no such thing as a Christian hairstyle, a Muslim hairstyle or a Police hairstyle! Why then does the Royal Barbados Police Force find it socially responsible to describe a wanted man as “with a Rastafarian hairstyle”? Suppose the wanted man with the “Rastafarian hairstyle” is not Rastafarian by faith. Would his hairstyle be “Rastafarian” as asserted in the public announcement? Furthermore, when did the Royal Barbados Police Force question the wanted man about his “Rastafarian hairstyle”?
It is imperative to report and address when overt actions from reputable institutions such as the Royal Barbados Police Force lack objectivity and bring dishonour to the name of Rastafari or any religious institution. The announcement was consumed by the public either consciously or subconsciously.
Whereas, the primary purpose of the announcement is acknowledged as in the public’s interest, the content was malicious, negligent and possibly intended to damage to Rastafarians’ image. It is expected proper that the Royal Barbados Police Force will redress the issue of implicating Rastafarians in its public announcement and, further, seek to mend its relations with the Rastafarian community.
It would have been less damaging to announce the wanted man as “wearing a dread-lock hairstyle”. The main reason is that no religious faith is trivial nor is any defamatory announcement attributed to the State. By explicitly profiling the wanted man as “with Rastafarian hairstyle to shoulder length”, the Royal Barbados Police Force has prejudiced the religious affiliation of the wanted man and breached the integrity of Rastafarians by directly associating the Rastafarian identity with criminal activity.
Our aim is not to cry shame on the Royal Barbados Police Force but to responsibly eliminate this scourge of Rastafari profiling. We propose a means to help implement good governance and to help foster a sustainable, justice-centred relationship between the Rastafarians and the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Ras KudosSage I