In a week in which there were serious allegations of brutality levelled against the Royal Barbados Police Force, two images on the back page of Wednesday’s epaper edition of Barbados TODAY rush to mind as we ponder aloud, under whose watch would such be allowed to take place.
In a story headlined, Not On My Watch, the Attorney General is seen in one photo looking intently at his wrist watch and in the second, sitting beside a reclining Ombudsman Valton Bend at a celebratory function at UN House that same day at which he was at pains to refute prison officers’ claims of political victimization.
However, when asked by Barbados TODAY to comment on last Sunday’s kicking of a civilian by a member of the Force’s Task Force, the AG simply sidestepped the issue, saying it was still under active investigation. He also flatly refused to comment on the release the day before of one of this island’s most notorious criminals – Denzil Roberts.
But investigation or no investigation, is the brutality charge or any accused rogue behaviour on the part of his charges not serious enough to at least warrant verbal condemnation by the highest lawmaker in the land? And why the sudden need to be mum on issues, such as the release of reputedly dangerous criminals back onto the streets of Barbados?
Lest we all misinterpret the actions of the state, shouldn’t our AG be at the forefront of issuing an explanation and putting all needless chatter to bed, before the conspiracy theorists can get out of their pajamas?
And don’t even get us started on our Ombudsman, the goodly Mr Bend. When is the last time we heard anything coming out of his office to suggest that he is actively carrying out his role as public advocate number one, charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration and serious violations of human rights?
Honestly, it would seem as though the answer is never.
And to make matters worse, the Force itself seems to have come down with a serious bout of denial over the recent “police brutality” incident, which was captured on video, and took place in full public glare — including within the sight of several innocent bystanders, who were simply out to have a good time at the final Waiki jam at Pirate’s Cove on Sunday night when it would seem as though all hell broke loose.
Based on reports, the Task Force had to be called in after some rowdies broke down the gate in a mad rush to get into the popular fete, which was simply “burst” last weekend.
However, the situation quickly descended from one of confusion into chaos, as the spotlight was clearly shone on the untempered actions of a few indifferent police officers.
Amid an instant public outcry, prominent attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim, QC, would speak up on behalf of the alleged civilian perpetrators-turned-victims, while threatening to file a formal legal suit against the State.
But instead of simply owning up to the behaviour of its members, our police high command would come down with an instant bout of internal amnesia so severe that they would not even be able to recognize their own Task Force officers even if they were unmistakably dressed in uniform and their features were clearly distinguishable on the now widely circulated video recordings of the ugly incident.
In a statement issued on Monday, the administration of the Royal Barbados Police Force advised that it had ordered an internal investigation into a social media posting “showing an individual dressed in a uniform similar to one worn by members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, kicking a man as he laid on the ground”.
The statement released by Public Relations Officer Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler said: “These investigations will be conducted firstly to determine if the individual in the posting is a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
We are therefore encouraging anyone who can provide any information to assist in these investigations, to come forward and provide the necessary information to the Office of Professional Responsibility or the Police Complaint Authority,” it added.
Shameful to say the very least! We dare not hold our breath while we await the outcome of yet another promised police probe for fear that it could prove fatal.
However, with Barbados already battling in treacherous waters economically, we could only hope and pray that there will be no more muddying and muddling of our domestic waters, but that common sense and good judgment will somehow prevail, otherwise God help us all!