Just over a week ago, Grenada marked the 32nd anniversary of one of its darkest periods – the executions of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and three of his Cabinet colleagues at Fort George.
History will record the fact that seventeen persons who held government and military positions during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution were convicted for the deaths on the fort after a lengthy court period.
The authorities were able to get assistance from police officers from neighboring Barbados to help investigate the killings on the fort and Bishop’s once close comrade, Bernard Coard, along with General Hudson Austin and others faced a murder trial.
The fact of the matter is that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the court proceedings as government left no stone unturned to bring a closure to those killings.
Today, the situation might be somewhat different.
THE NEW TODAY is extremely concerned over reports that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is left handicapped in its investigations of criminal acts in the country especially suspected cases of murder due to a lack of funds.
It appears that the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) has made the availability of cash very difficult for the police to bring in foreign experts to help them in their investigations into some questionable deaths.
This newspaper was told about three recent cases involving the deaths of persons including a policeman that needed outside assistance which was denied to RGPF on the grounds of a lack of funds in government coffers.
One of the cases is rather interesting since the person who died was a Corporal of Police who had brought a case against the State in connection with the passing of his baby at the St. George’s General hospital.
The officer was very suspicious about the circumstances in which the baby died and decided to file a lawsuit against the State.
The situation was compounded by the fact that the father did not get the baby for burial which is a Christian tradition in this country.
That situation in itself is something that needs to be fully investigated in light of all sorts of reports circulating in the country about the mysterious disappearance of the body of the young one.
However, the police officer died about a month ago without getting justice and the autopsy that was done on his own body did not give a very conclusive cause of death.
The police force needed foreign expertise to conduct a much more elaborate test and was not able to get the assistance due to again so-called lack of funds on the part of the State.
What is mind boggling is the fact that the boss of the Police force is the Minister of National Security who is also the Minister of Finance.
The other suspicious deaths were the two most recent so-called “hanging” in the St. Mark’s area in which the police have not ruled out foul play meaning that the final decision is also inconclusive.
There are some persons within the force who suspect that the body of one of the persons discovered hanging might have been killed elsewhere and taken to the spot where it was found.
The other was the discovery of a body in the River in which the police believe that murder should not be ruled out and that a close family member might be a person of interest to them.
The police need to conduct a specialized type of investigation into both these two cases which the island does not have but again the so-called lack of funds on the part of the State proved to be a handicap for the force.
The question to be asked is this: Do we have criminals and murderers walking free in this country due to cash flow problems in the Treasury? This is a very serious matter that needs to be addressed by the powers-that-be.
This is not an issue to be played political football with by anyone. It is a rather serious matter of national importance since morale in the force can be badly affected.
A police force can only be as good as the tools that are made available to the officers to do their work.
It is one thing to talk about the Attrition policy which comes with retrenchment in the public service as part of our much talked about Structural Adjustment Programme not being extended to the police force.
However, the bigger picture is that the officers in the same police force are being starved of funds due to the same Structural Adjustment Programme to turn to forensic science to help investigate serious and questionable deaths in the country.
No stone should be left unturned including the availability of funds to satisfy Grenadians that murderers are not able to walk free from their crimes.