Murder assassination of Special Prosecutor Dana Seetahal terrible – but no surprise

Dana Seetahal murdered

Dana Seetahal murdered Sunday May 4, 2014

Courts and legal disputes are dangerous business in the Caribbean

submitted by Gary M. Further editing by Robert.

Folks who have lived all their lives in the UK or the USA do not understand what it means to be involved in a legal dispute or criminal trial in any Caribbean, Central or South American country. The reality is this: involvement with the courts can be dangerous business. Even minor disputes can produce threats, beatings or worse. That is generally not the way it is in the USA and UK, but in small island nations it is not unheard of for legal arguments to be put forward through cricket bats or Molotov cocktails in the dark of night.

And just because a person is in a legal dispute with the government is no guarantee of safety. Some say with good reason Sue de guvment. Trouble for you!

Where does this disrespect for law and the courts come from in the Caribbean?   

There are many theories about why legal fights are so dangerous in the Caribbean, but one of the contributing factors must be that those in power are themselves no respecters of law or the courts, and the populace learns from its leaders. Those in power do what they want to do with little regard for the law. In Barbados, successive governments have long shown that the law is a weapon to be used or ignored as convenient. If the courts don’t do what the government says, no problem – the political elites send in the military to overrule the courts or have a family member fired from a government job. ‘Might is right’ is the message.

‘Rule of Law’ is usually nothing more than a hollow phrase in small island nations where the power cabals have been deeply entrenched for generations. In Barbados ‘power cabals’ used to mean the white plantation class – but for at least three decades those with real control, authority and power have been the political elites. Sure, the plantation class still has money and influence, but it is the political elites who wield the power of government to make money for themselves, award government contracts, allow all manner of self-serving exceptions to laws.

To further their interests the political elites so obviously stack and control the courts. If you go before the court, the judge is just as likely to be the cousin of your adversary or an old political rival – perhaps even the former Attorney General or Minister of this and that.

Justice and Courts are different here in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean. The murder of Special Prosecutor Dana Seetahal is at its core, only one more incident in a long, long list.

Gary M.



Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Police, Trinidad and Tobago

3 responses to “Murder assassination of Special Prosecutor Dana Seetahal terrible – but no surprise

  1. Richard

    You are absolutely on point, it is the corrupt judges and elected minister who flout the laws and in most cases are involved in things of the like. There is no respect for the laws, anything to control power and to be able to use your position of power to protect self and cronies will be defended, even if it means killing another person. This is why corruption is rife, this is why crimes do not get solved, because the persons who mandated to carry out the laws of the land, they themselves are an obstruction to executing those very same laws and are probably more corrupt than the ordinary man in the street. When a country descends to such a low level where a person can be killed because of his or her involvement in a court matter it is really a sad.

  2. robert ross

    Now gentlemen hold on. What is the evidence that Ms Seetahal was killed because of her involvement in a particular case? If there is, please spell it out.
    The problem with this ‘populist’ post is that it insinuates and asserts in the general – which is another way of saying that it is fine as an exercise in composition. It speaks of judges slavishly following a government line. OK. Then what of the Garcia case last year? Did Reifer J follow the Government line? Like hell she did. I know. I was there.
    There is, whenever this ‘tale from the courts’ is raised, an implicit assumption that legal systems outside the Caribbean are squeaky clean. I can tell you from experience that the UK system is inherently corrupt – not because money changes hands but because the ‘legal elite’ incestuously protects itself. It is riddled with humbug, with ‘old boys’, with secret handshakes, with issues of status and self-protection – and that goes from the most base level, the police, and up to the Court of Appeal. Been there, seen and done that.
    And further, tell me who doesn’t play the ‘law card’ when it suits them and ignores it when it suits them? It’s like the ‘race’ card – OK if it’s white on black but not – quelle horreur – if its black on white. Indeed, if you think about it this must be so – else there never would be an appeal, a complaint to the (UK) Legal Ombudsman, a complaint about the service of lawyers lodged through chambers or the conduct of the police through the Police Complaints’ Commission. You wouldn’t need any of this if your life in the law was like the knights of old sitting at the round table.

  3. BFP

    Reblogged this on Barbados Free Press and commented:

    Eleven gang members charged with Seetahal murder

    But will Trinidadian police be able to convict? Or will witnesses disappear or be murdered?

    Once the thugs gain the upper hand in any Caribbean island, it is so difficult maintain the rule of law. Good luck to T&T authorities.