The pursuit of truth and justice
Editor: The idea of justice demands that it remains empirically impalpable however, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, justice appears fractured, broken even. Currently in SVG, unconstitutional denial glares as there is yet again no duly appointed magistrate to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court after months of closure earlier this year. When legal redress is not expediently forthcoming, the absence of redress takes flight – “Justice delayed is justice denied”. This common place negligence not only contradicts fundamental principals of justice but undermines the Constitution and fabric of human rights. It further meanders negative effects throughout society hampering the already staggering economic growth. Only when the relationship of justice and human rights is intact, SVG will realize the possibility of growth and development through a clear agenda.
In the DNA of justice lies public confidence. A confidence that is fundamental to the effective operation of the justice system. Confidence in SVG’s justice system has come to light as critical.
When confidence in justice ceases, distrust in its fairness, effectiveness and efficiency creates a society steep in lawlessness. While government reports reflect falling trends in crime, observation fact checks this lie. It is the very ceasing of confidence, unconstitutional denial and negligence that insisted I grab the wheel of the investigation into my brother, Alex Bradshaw’s murder.
In lieu of absent-efficiency, it became necessary that I retraced Alex’s steps, interviewed witnesses and painstakingly crafted and presented to the CID, Commissioner of Police and The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) documentations along with a request for discovery (which is yet to be furnished) necessary to aid truth. I discovered an antiquated system lacking standard universal forms, electronic data entry and access among police stations. For ease of identification and limiting further abuse of laziness, included but not limited in the discovery request were front, side and back body sketches on which Alex’s stab wounds and angles of penetration can be marked. It is unimaginable the trauma caused to Vincentians without access. It is imperative that even-handed enforcement of the law integrating supportive services, tools and resources be present to ensure justice however, in SVG, they are extremely exacerbated.
The Constitution demands that The Director of Public Prosecution shall have the power in any case in which he considers it desirable so to do – to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in respect of any offense alleged to have been committed by that person. It is therefore most imperative for the sake of justice, this office be furnished with thorough evidence based findings. The callousness in masking truthfulness is cause for public pause. As an example, the incident is recorded to have taken place at 5 pm when concrete evidence shows that Alex was not in Kingstown at such time; with further evidence of Alex having communication with family and acquaintances after then – some hours later. The law provides for free movement and assembly yet the reporting states “Alex frequents Kingstown and hang out at various shops” rather than the fact that Kingstown is not a place that Alex frequents on Sundays. These inclusions cannot be simply overlooked or summed up to human error but rather prejudice and careless disregard for human rights. The lack of concern for human rights is further evident in the fact that I reported that persons were offering vigilante justice, and for its avoidance Enright Blake should be secured; CID lied that they will pick him up numerous times to no avail.
A letter received from the Police Commissioner’s Office states that the DPP advised the release of the Enright Blake yet I was directly informed by the Office of the DPP, that it has not yet received any evidence from the CID on Alex’s killing. How then can this system be confidently trusted to ensure justice? It must be demanded that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ justice system shift from refusing to investigate crimes/complaints to effectively servicing its citizens in a manner that improves SVG’s attitudes toward justice.
I as an untrained investigator, was further tasked with the gathering of information lacking in the CID’s “investigation” – an investigation on which the DPP in its capacity of “gatekeeper of the courts” depends to approve a case worthy. The CID was unaware of Alex’s burglarized home, the route of his final path, whom he encountered, with whom he last spoke, items missing from his person that may have linked his killer or an accessory. Vincentians are asked to trust in a justice that exhibited negligent in butchered investigations, a police that failed to conduct the simplest of tasks – the collecting finger prints, the bloody cloth left on Alex’s bathroom sink or swabbed the blood from the broken window pane. Whether rooted in a lack of resources, bias or even professional self-interest, society must demand that justice never falters.
Accountability is necessary for any functioning society. It is imperative that the justice system be held accountable to building a more just society. Conformation to a broken orthodoxy must be rejected. Laws must be challenged to be just and not merely an acceptance that it is so. There must be a demand for a “Rights Based” society with reframed conversation on justice. The value of justice must be not weighted by whom is seeking it but rather the measurement of its fairness. Law enforcers and policy makers role cannot be limited to showing up to the job but for the job. In the capacity of public service, there must be a steady commitment to an oath that serves the public’s best interest with urgency and professionalism absent of prejudice.
There must be an ethical upholding of the law – a moral principle that governs behavior with lens on justice. The Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines demands that the criminal justice system and law enforcers be very much related to ethics in the establishment and carrying out of definite rights and duties holding anyone and everyone accountable that deviates. Understanding this contradiction of progress is key to improving public trust and confidence in the justice system. “Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”. Human rights extends beyond Alex’s grave.