Just be fair!!!

THE NEW TODAY welcomes the announcement made by Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James about an investigation to take place into serious allegations of sexual abuse involving some senior members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

The brief statement issued by Mr. James did not give any indication as to who will conduct the probe except to say that it would be of a criminal nature.

If that is so then the intent must be to submit the findings of the investigation for a final determination by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

This newspaper, although supportive of the probe has a few concerns. It should be recalled that it was THE NEW TODAY that brought the allegations of sexual abuse including rape by a senior officer against a former Woman Police Constable in the St. John’s area.

The Acting Commissioner of Police had a report in his hand as submitted by the WPC some three months ago and did not appear to have done anything about it.

It appears to us that Mr. James only saw the need or was pushed by someone to act following publication of the alleged sexual abuse against the WPC by THE NEW TODAY.

What actions did Mr. James take within days of receiving the report? Did he call in the officers as named in the report by the WPC and confront any of them with the allegations made against them in the report?

As a matter of fact, this newspaper is viewing with a great deal of caution and suspicion the statement made by Mr. James that the investigation would be carried out with “fairness”.

The fact of the matter is that one of the persons named in the report to have engage in alleged sexual impropriety against the WPC has apparently received a promotion within RGPF in recent months.

Mr. James as Acting Commissioner of Police would have had the report in his hand and yet still sanctioned the upward mobility of this particular officer within the force. So why should anyone regard as serious his statement that the investigation will be fair?

Another area of concern is that the investigating arm within the police force lies with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) now headed by Superintendent Trevor Modeste.

The information seems to suggest that all three officers to be investigated are senior in rank to Supt Modeste.

How can a junior member of staff be called upon to investigate his seniors? It just does not seem to be right. The investigation would have to be spearheaded by someone who at least is senior in rank to those to be probed for alleged wrong-doing or a very independent-minded person.

It is doubtful whether any member of the High Command outside of Mr. James himself who in his days was a very experienced police investigator, has the capability and know-how to conduct a proper criminal investigation into the allegations against the three senior police officers as named by the WPC in her report.

Our view is that a respected and retired senior Police Officer should be called in to carry out the investigation to qualify it as “fairness”.

The Acting Commissioner of Police could also seek the assistance of an independent investigator probably from the Barbados Police Force to do the investigation and to hand in his findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions. As a mater of fact, the DPP himself can take charge of the proceedings and give directions.

A few years ago when current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell was accused of accepting a bribe of US$500, 000.00 to make fraudster Eric Resteiner an ambassador, the then Governor-General, Sir Daniel Williams took the steps of inviting Barbadian jurist, Sir Richard Cheltenham to be the sole Commissioner to do this apparent independent investigation.

There was an appearance of independence even if Dr. Cheltenham is a personal friend, attorney to and business partner of Dr. Patrick Antoine, who is the Chief Economic Adviser to Dr. Mitchell and his government.

At least the former GG tried to send out a message to the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique that the official investigation against Dr. Mitchell would be carried out by a jurist who is well-known in international circles.

Finally, THE NEW TODAY would like to see the Spicemas Corporation do a serious post-mortem of the just ended Spicemas 2013 and to begin the task of taking steps to improve on the shortcomings this year and to execute a much better product for next year and the years ahead.

The question of “Spectator Mas” has to be addressed and dealt with. Why only three bands were on parade before the judges on Carnival Tuesday? Apart from these three, only Summer Crew and a Shortknee were on the streets of the Port Highway/Carenage on the last day of carnival.

Is that what we want to showcase to the world? Is that good enough to get our visitors to come back again next year and to invite their friends to come to Grenada for Spicemas 2014?

If truth be told Grenada is one of the most expensive destinations to visit in the months around August since it is much cheaper for even Grenadians living in New York to buy an all-inclusive package for an entire family and travel to Jamaica.

The onus is therefore on us as a country to always make improvements on the carnival product to make the Spicemas experience something that visitors would always want to experience and share with us.

The tourism dollar cannot be overstated for Grenada given the present climate in the entire world.

Despite the problems, the NEW TODAY would like to thank all those who participated in the carnival and did put on something for our visitors and those at home who always show their support and appreciation of carnival.

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