A system just worsening for the better?

This is now becoming akin to the proverbial broken record.

But until some major attempt to wrestle this national disgrace to the ground is made, it must be kept on the front burner to the point of embarrassing Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, Chief Magistrate Pamela Beckles and any other individual of influence in our judicial set-up who has the capacity to address the crisis.

It has now become seemingly routine for magistrates to dismiss criminal cases for lack of prosecution. In most, if not all instances, these cases are being dismissed because there are no files or other relevant documents to proceed.

There was a time when cases were dismissed due to the consistent and prolonged absence of both police and civilian witnesses. Now, the process is seemingly not even reaching that stage because the system appears to have broken down so irrevocably that files are either disappearing, not being prepared or simply falling through the cracks.

Yesterday, this sad state of affairs was highlighted once again when Magistrate Douglas Frederick dismissed a case of theft and money laundering related to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Barbados National Bank Incorporated, where moneys exceeding $500,000 were involved. The failure of the prosecution to present relevant documentary information for the four-year-old case resulted in the accused persons walking free.

The irony of this situation is that if moneys were recovered in the case, now that it has been dismissed, the accused would be within their rights to seek to recoup them. It is that ridiculous owing to state ineptness.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Rapists, robbers and all other manner of criminal elements are walking free on almost a monthly basis because somewhere in Barbados, people who have been entrusted with certain responsibilities, and are being paid by taxpayers, are not doing their jobs.

And we ought to spare a thought for the victims of these crimes who are denied justice. It is a situation that must raise alarm bells, at best, and some suspicion, at worst.

There are cases of illegal drug possession involving millions of dollars that have not seen the light of day after charges were first laid in some instances for more than seven years. Our information is that some of these matters have been adjourned time and time again for reasons ranging from the absence of case files and absent witnesses, to protracted waiting periods for analytical evidence.

When other cases –– some summary –– are rushed through our judicial system, or in some instances, relodged or appealed on their dismissal, a clear-thinking and impartial public could be forgiven for suspecting that there might be more in the mortar than the pestle, with the chronic failure of relevant paperwork reaching our law courts.

The offering of bail to an individual charged with murder, following the lengthy period it took for the prosecution to start the case recently, caused much debate. But the time might not be too far off when some defence lawyer moves for a murder charge to be dismissed for lack of prosecution at the preliminary stage of the trial process.

Whether our magistrates have the authority to dismiss such a capital charge is not the critical issue here, but the mockery being made of our legal processes that is the important factor.

But while these inefficiencies are spiralling out of control, more police officers are being recruited, more lawyers are being admitted to the bar, more persons are being promoted within the judiciary, more individuals are receiving all types of accolades for their “work”, salaries are still being collected monthly within a malfunctioning system of worsening improvements.

Some years ago, as part of what many have been described as simply placing plaster over a festering sore, a discount system was introduced within the judiciary. Persons on remand for periods that sometimes stretched as long as seven or more years had that time taken into consideration when they received their sentences.

But for anyone to take comfort in that discount system, or to even promote it as some form of “improvement” in the dispensing of justice, speaks volumes as to why much of our processes wallow in the prevailing mire. This was mere smug adhesive placed over the problem.

What is particularly upsetting is that these are not new problems. And despite promises in high places of imminent improvements, our systems seem to be worsening for the better.

One Response to A system just worsening for the better?

  1. Tristian Balgraves July 24, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    The writer of this article fails miserably at understanding what the police and prosecutor knows; that to be accused and charged with wrong doing is not the same as being guilty or found guilty. The prosecutors’ office must, and should have evidence to prove their side of the argument; the court should and must be about the evidence that can be presented in the case at hand in order that justice may be done not what people feels or thinks. If this is not the case then we should go back to the days of the witch hunts and the inquisition; where the only evidence was who the accuser was or apparent insurmountable circumstantial “evidence” and the rule of the mob.

    ‘The failure of the prosecution to present relevant documentary information for the four-year-old case resulted in the accused persons walking free.’

    An accused person is just what is says an accused; it is not the same as guilty or have been found to be guilty. Sometimes it is taken further that anyone called in for questions in an criminal of civil wrong doing can be sighted by the media as guilty, in other word as long as you are suspected to be, you are guilty, the thought being you do not get accused ever wrongfully. (The Michael Jackson pedophile court case charade.) Remember the mother not long ago in recent memory been questioned about her sons’ lifeless body dangling from a piece of ligature and how the ignorant including media houses presented her as guilty. Should she not be walking free today? Well according to the above article she should have been incarcerated until the justice system found evidence of her guilt or at least get some measure of revenge by refusing bail along with the usual police tactic use of lost and or delayed files because she was “really really guilty”?

    The police and prosecutor many a time starts a case before they have the proper evidence that will hold up in court, hoping or believing that more credible evidence can and will be accumulated. In their minds and belief it might be that the accused is guilt but there is no substantial or only circumstantial evidence at that point in time and hence they use delay tactics as describe in the article. Often this is due to political pressure and misguided public opinions and expectations not founded in law fed on by the media corporations looking to make money.

    Yes, it is an abomination, the guilty does not suffer the consequences of their actions and the victims find themselves without legal recourse and once more the feelings of victimization. Yet seeking to correct this via the usual methods of delay tactics is another form of abomination, which the vast majority of the public would not or care to understand until they are placed in the same light as an accused and know within them there are truly innocent. The general public at large likes to ‘run off at the mouth’ because, they cannot imagine been on the wrong side of the law. It would seem as practice by court official, those that up hold law, if we cannot get you one way we will get you another howbeit a little questionable.

    The justice system did not fall from the skies; it is a reflection of the state of the nation to which it governs. The more the people fall into degradation so too falls the justice system. In other word the justice system follows the hearts of the nation, and that includes the media corporations whose aim is ‘never enough’. It must be pointed out here that police and prosecutor, along with the judicial members alike are human with their own ‘sweet prejudice’ and passions accompany with personal hidden agenda.

    The real failure here is that the Barbados Government paid millions in education so that writers like the one of this article could get jobs in media houses and classify themselves as journalists to write and appeal to the misguided like them. Writers and readers alike need to truly educate themselves as to how things and systems really work and not run on the steam of emotions and backyard ignorance sweetened by bigotry and sprinkle with acceptable prejudice and practices.

    One of the reasons for this is rooted in human nature -the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things-. We live in an age where good is called evil and evil good. And we know what is good for we have been told. Do unto others as you would like them to do on to you. Can we make laws that stop greed, selfishness, apathy, hate? People love to see other fail especially if they are disliked, it makes them feel good that there can sit in judgment. It is said guns don’t kill people, people do. Hence, it’s not changing or over hauling the system rather changing and over hauling the peoples. We are truly deceived that evil can be fought with evil and good becomes the end result.


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