BU has been steadfast in its condemnation of the treatment of the two rape victims for whose assaults Derek Crawford was wrongfully accused and charged. BU has been unrelenting in its condemnation of the Commissioner of Police’s racist statements that suggested that the ladies raped could not identify their attacker because he was black. BU has roundly condemned the Director of Public Prosecutions for pursuing the matter against Derek Crawford in the face of statements by the victims that Mr Crawford was not their rapist. BU has called for the resignation or dismissal of the CoP and the DPP and those officials who so insensitively botched the matter. BU is unaware of whether or not the rapes continue to be investigated.
Chief Justice Marston Gibson, heads the Judicial and Legal Services Commission
The following extracted from the Sunday Sun September 23, 2012:
“A High Court is being asked to block the appointment of a Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In an unprecedented legal development, attorney at law Elwood Watts, who acted as Crown Counsel in the DPP’s office for the past six years, is seeking an injunction against the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, chaired by Chief Justice Marston Gibson and includes Appeal Court Justice Sandra Mason and High Court Justice Maureen Crane-Scott.
Attorney at law Alison Burke, who was recently admitted to the Bar, was to take up the permanent appointment as Crown Counsel effective September 1. But in his court filings challenging the decision of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to ratify Burke’s appointment, Watts has complained that the position of Crown Counsel was never advertised as required by law. As a result, the former police sergeant who has been on secondment to the DPP’s office, said he never had a chance to secure the appointment.
Reports indicated that Burke, who was attached to the Ministry of Health as a staff nurse prior to her appointment, never had any experience in court proceedings. A date is to be set for hearing of the injunction.”
Chief justice Marston Gibson has recently slapped down the Barbados Bar Association, the lawyers’ trade union, for its impertinence in questioning how he does his job. It did not come a minute too soon. There is a culture of elitism in Barbados in which some professionally and socially well-connected people feel, as if by nature, they have a right to be excepted from the normal courtesies. It is an arrogance which has emerged to substitute for substance in other areas of their lives, such as the poverty of progressive ideas and of cultural understanding.
But, and it is relevant to the issues I want to raise in this blog, within the legal profession there is an absence of any significant liberal tradition in Caribbean (Barbadian) legal thought. I have raised this issue before to much disdain. Like the societies they regulate, what passes for legal thought is based on a Victorian social conservatism, which pre-dated human rights theory, and in which outdated practices such as hanging still play a central role in the legal imagination and, as a direct result, the idea of criminal justice.
Two dominant influences shape our deeply conservative criminal law tradition: the so-called Westminster model (lawmaking), based on the UK’s parliamentary tradition, and the common law model, based again on the England and Wales tradition of statute and case law. Linking both these traditions is the doctrine of the rule of law, the principles rooted in the Magna Carta, which stipulate that the state must have legitimate grounds for depriving a citizen of her/her liberty and right to property. One hybrid political position best exemplifies this tradition, that of attorney general.
In what is a quite unbelievable development for a country that aspires to be “developed”, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has stated that because a woman refused sex to a man who was virtually blackmailing her, she was, in fact, “provoking” him and his subsequent act of beating her to death could not be considered murder.
Does this now mean that any time that a man, having reasonable expectations that he might have sex with a woman, can now beat her to death if she refuses, and not be charged with murder? The DPP has declared open season on women in Barbados. I wonder what his wife thinks.
Let the record reflect Barbados Underground (BU) supports the RoyalBarbados Police Force (RBPF). Let the record also reflect BU supports the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Is there room for improvement in the offices of both? Hell yes! Commissioner Dottin can start by assuring the public that the hierarchy of the police force is singing from the same song sheet. DPP Charles Leacock can persuade us that his role is not simply to be a figurehead!
In the news recently Commissioner Darwin Dottin and DPP Charles Leacock were quoted in the local media. Commissioner Dottin took a swipe at social media and in particular another local blog. Again BU has to chide the Commissioner for speaking out of turn. His comments were completely at odds with international accords to which Barbados is a signatory.
DPP Charles Leacock, on the other hand, said that social commentators ought to refrain from making comments about cases before the courts. Given the fact that the DPP was speaking to a training class of prosecutors, it only requires a modicum of commonsense to know he was referring to criminal cases before the courts, this makes DPP Leacock right*!