The Fourth Estate plays a critical role to the proper functioning of a democracy, it must. Providing citizens with information which equips them to make the best decisions and at the same time act as a watchdog targeting those who act as gatekeepers of authority and influence in our society. Any attempt to sanitize, filter, manipulate information which it feeds to the public must be rejected as a fourth estate reneging on its obligation. The consequence is a compromised democracy.
In Barbados the media [fourth estate] is heavily self-censored. With the exception of a couple media practitioners there is a lack of respect for the profession by the decisionmakers and general public. It is fair to suggest that media workers demonstrate a lack of respect for themselves if we are to judge their inability to promote a vibrant union or association. The Barbados Association of Journalists (BAJ) does not even have an official website or Facebook presence in 2013 such is the inadequacy of how media workers see themselves.
The top story of the week stoked by the local media is that a newspaper snagged a video which was circulating on Facebook for over a month and posted a blurred image of two teens having sex in a classroom full in the knowledge they were being video recorded. BU has no doubt the public outcry provoked by this incident like all the others before will pass with nothing material done to address the factors at the root of juvenile and parental delinquency in our society. It must be said that the newspaper at the centre of the incident must have experienced a spike in sales.
This is one week since the Police Service Commission Report to Retire Commissioner Darwin Dottin was released by BU and ignored by traditional media. How can anyone take the local media and the bevy of talk show hosts seriously when in one breath they pontificate about the moral issue emanating from the sex video, and rightly so, but ignore an issue which attacks a key plank in our governance system. What separates Barbados from the rest has been our ability to maintain law and order on our little island. Despite all of our challenges Barbadians have always prided themselves in being a peaceful and law abiding nation.
While Barbados was consumed this week by the sex video saga the global media reacted to news that the USA (Big Brother) hacked the phones of prominent persons across the globe. All part of adhering to national security. And in Britain there was the news that the long awaited trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson is set to begin, a case where two journalists are alleged to have hacked the phone records of members of parliament, members of the royal family and others – Phone hacking: Court told of tabloids’ ‘decade of deceit.
All too often, we see our children in the news. Whether rape, theft or murder, we see too many of our future generation making headlines for all the wrong reasons. We have to now look at ways to reverse the growing trend of youth crime and violence. And, peace education is one of the best ways to resolve and reduce these crimes. Informed learning can provide alternatives to resolve social conflicts within our society. Many young persons may not have the ability to know the difference between crime and its effects on the community, the society and the self. But if clearly demonstrated, they can be taught and in turn, encourage a positive message amongst their peers.
President of the Caribbean Mentorship Institute, Felicia Browne notes that “the past few weeks, and in the last 24 hours we have witnessed a rising trend of violence amongst our youths. There are deep fundamental questions that must be investigated to provide the best solutions to their problems. However, crime-prevention education and conflict interventions can alleviate some of these existing problems. The growing concerns of youth advocates are the age groups and genders of these victims. The victims of violence crimes have little or no social assistance to resolve their problems. For instance, we are observing a trend in young males being victims of violent crimes- some of which are or have been done by either a family member, friend within their circle or someone within their communities.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, acted as lawyer for the project before being elected to government
Former Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin
Assistant Superintendent met with the Commission on 22 July, 2011. She gave an account of a meeting she attended with Commissioner of Police and Inspector Anderson Bowen, during which meeting the Commissioner manipulated his laptop computer and played a recording of a telephone conversation between Inspector Bowen and another person…
(Extracted from the Police Service Commission Recommendation of Retirement of the Commissioner of Police)
The passing of Inspector Anderson Bowen has given reason for pause in the BU household. While many may remember his exploits to capture the fiercest criminal, BU will always remember him for daring to challenge Commissioner Darwin Dottin in 2005 and as a consequence suffer uncalled for indignity before his peers when he was disciplined in 2007. Although he was reinstated by the Police Service Commission in 2010, his career had been effectively derailed by Dottin.
Barbados is becoming like a war zone, with reports of shootings almost everyday by reckless and underemployed young men (they are almost always men). It is now taking on the characteristics of West Kingston in the mid-1970s when a surplus of arms fuelled the resentment of gangsters affiliated to the two dominant political parties. This aspect of Caribbean shootings has not yet raised its ugly head in Barbados, nor has the savagery of the murderous gangsters in Trinidad, although the choke and rob muggers of Guyana has been adopted by some Barbadian youths. In all this, the apparatus of law and order seems helpless, apart from a demand to better arm the policy and the unopposed willingness to put the Defence force on the streets and parading some of the West Coast beaches. It is a development that will eventually end in tears.
Causation: Crime and punishment is one of those subjects that have been raising people’s blood pressure since Adam and Eve. From the church to every man and woman at the street corner, we all have explanations for the break down in law and order. Those opposed to the drift in to a more repressive society (see: Stuart Hall: Drifting in to a Law and Order Society) are frequently forced to ask: whose law, what order. However, crime causation is the issue that pre-occupies most criminologists and criminal justice workers.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, overtime and extra duty removed from the Police Force announced in the recent Budget
Submitted by Posh
I read in the Barbados Today publication about the meeting held between the Force and persons who have a vested interest in the St. Lawrence area. I particularly noted that it was stated by Inspector Streeks that the mobile unit is sometimes only staffed once a week due to resources. For those who don’t know resources really means man/woman power. (Not trying to patronize anyone).
There are one perhaps two issues I’d like to identify and perhaps offer my own opinion as to what might assist this situation. Firstly, the man power situation within the RBPF is not going to improve any time soon and in fact is only going to become worse. With the end to overtime and extra duty, all short falls in man power which would previously have been reinforced by extra/overtime is now no longer an option.
Then you have the ugly side effect of morale, no extra duty means low morale for any police force and while it is unfortunate it is unavoidable. So this tourist season we should all be prepared for less patrols, less visibility and less presence. What might happen is that some areas might be left vulnerable while others are bolstered.
The following was extracted from Wade Gibbons’ Facebook Page. He is a reporter for Barbados Today and is a former policeman.
Some excellent administrative and proactive moves by acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith. He is going to make a terrific leader of the RBPF, a position he should have held a long time ago.
The phones of innocent law-abiding Barbadians could not have been tapped by Dimwit Dottin without the knowledge and participation of some in the Special Branch which Dottin once headed. It was an ongoing criminal act by Dottin, deserving of imprisonment and not pension, and as such the hierarchy of that specialised department should have squealed on the thug and not be drawn into his criminality. No commissioner of police – an incompetent one at that – can compel a police officer to commit a crime.
If the force is to be purged of Dottin’s criminal presence, then of necessity some house-cleaning has to be done in departments such as the Special Branch. One transferred from that department is as close to me as a brother and I love him as such but wrong is wrong. Now that the Dottin cancer has been removed the organs of the body should gradually start to heal and return to a state of normalcy. Full praise to Commissioner Griffith. May God guide your every move.
For some years now, BU has been seeking the removal of the Registrar, Marva Clarke. Now, she is gone.
We are told that it was voluntary and that she was not asked to resign, but that she did so anyway, since it had been made clear to her that, under Gibson CJ, she would never be promoted to the Bench. Which, if you think about it, is precisely the same thing.
Mia Mottley’s has bee critical of the way Commissioner Dottin was removed.
Since late last year, and again earlier this year, some persons in the BLP had been telling this country that they had no confidence in the Police Service Commission. They wanted to see the back of the the Commission that was chaired by the highly respected and above-board Dr. Trevor Carmichael, and the other members.
I guess after all the griping and bad-mouthing of the Commission, Dr. Carmichael, an outstanding Barbadian of impeccable character, appeared to have had enough of the idle talk and stepped down.
A new Chairman, an attorney at law, an untarnished former senior police officer and former Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Barbados Anti-Money Laundering Authority, Mr. Guyson Mayers, a man with an unblemished reputation, was appointed.
Barbados Today published the story that former COP has formally handed over to COP Griffith and withdrawn from court matter against the Police Service Commission. Included in the report is alleged authorization of wiretapping by Dottin.
News reaching BU indicates that Commissioner Darwin Dottin has been sent on administrative leave. Given the recent development that a Deputy Commissioner was being selected without the input from Dottin provided a clue that sanction against Dottin was in the offing. A few weeks ago we also learned that Dottin had to return from vacation because his recommendation of the person to act while he was on leave was declined by the Public Service Commission.
Former Court Registrar, Justice Maureen Crane-Scott
Minister of Home Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams
Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union
Former Chief Justice, Sir David Simmons
Update: The Nation newspaper has issued a public apology to Sir David Seale and Caswell Franklyn in today’s edition. It turns out that it was our own Caswell who penned the Guest Column and NOT Sir David
In a recent blog BU investigated the issue of attorneys who opt not to be members of the Barbados Bar Association (“BA”) on the basis that the Legal Profession Act contravenes the Constitution of Barbados and is, as a result, a nullity ab initio.
The almost unanimous opinions expressed by BU’s legal eagles was that the Legal Profession Act would be found in law to be a nullity ab initio.
BU has received a letter from attorney-at-law Wilfred A. Abrahams to the President of the Barbados Bar Association dated April 12, 2003 in which he gives notice that the attorneys of the chambers of which he is head, Aegis Chambers, intend to object to appearing in court with any attorney who has not submitted themselves to the Legal Profession Act and, inter alia, accusing these dissenting attorneys of committing an illegal act by practicing law – See Letter sent by Abrahams to the Bar – part 1 and Part 2
I am wondering what example is being set in Barbados. The behaviour of four public officials and professionals come to mind. First we had the government Minister Mr David Estwick being accused of either pulling or exposing a gun to Mr Dale Marshall. Second, it was the Commissioner being charged with misconduct in public office and being held up to the people of Barbados as a liar.Yet still these two individuals are allowed to function in public office without being sanctioned I deliberately referred to these as individuals until they are exonerated. They certainly do not deserve the title of gentlemen.
Mr Brathwaite can you not see that the members of the Royal Barbados Police Force and the wider society is loosing confidence in you. In following the debates on this blog all appeals are being made to the Prime Minister, what is happening is under your portfolio and we the citizens of this country fully know this. We understand our system of government. Had I been in your position I would be seriously concerned that they are calling for the PM to micro- manage.
I am wondering why your voice is so deafeningly silent on these issues. Why cannot you order an investigation into the whole Derrick Crawford issue? I am in a trusted position and I will only divulge this much, the COP has refused an offer of technical assistance from other quarters in an effort to solve the issue. Why is he so adamant that he is sticking to his guns and now that the bluff is being called for him to expose the so called information that he said he has he gone sick?
Of interest is that I understand from reliable sources that his cousin, the female sergeant made mention of on this blog had indeed been transferred and she took his lead and reported sick. Is this what we the tax payers of Barbados is paying for?
I wish first to congratulate you on your return to office. The people of Barbados have instilled their confidence in you. I do personally admire you, and despite the beating that your leadership style has taken throughout the years I am satisfied that the Barbadian electorate is justified in returning you to office. We believe that your are honest, of sound character and fully capable of making this nation proud again. I must say though that I felt disappointed that you thought is necessary to respond to Muscle Mary as it was not worth the effort. In a day like today when persons cannot articulate themself without referring to another person physical appearance it is a sad. We accept the beauty of your character and honesty and the magnitude of your intellect; I buy into your concept of building a society. Mr Arthur explicitly stated that he does not know any philosophy about building a society, he only knows about building an economy. Well where the only vision is an economic vision the society becomes an open prison where respect is lost and freedom is curtailed by there resulting acts of criminality. Mr Arthur failed to see that when everything is premise on the almighty dollar it leads eventually to a state of anomie.
Mr PM you must take fully in your hands the reigns of leadership. You have created history being the first Prime Minister to inherited a Government and won back in the election, and to add to that, in the toughest economic times. This definitely speaks volumes to the high regard in which the right thinking Barbadians hold you and your Government, may God bless you and give you the health and strength to continue.