By Chelsea Alexander
Our reality now is that while we live among each other, the rules apply differently depending on who you are. The most recent and controversial example of this involves the delicate treatment of two high-ranking, public officials allegedly involved in the shooting of Mr. Cornelius John.
The glaring dissimilarity in the treatment of high-ranking, public officials, and the ordinary citizen against whom serious allegations are made is nothing new; but, when the response of the authorities and stakeholders is, again, one which seemingly leans towards allowing the proverbial nine days to elapse before reverting to business as usual, as a newly admitted legal practitioner in this State, I cannot, in good conscience, remain silent.
It is helpful to consider what usually happens when the ordinary citizen is accused of criminal conduct. When the person against whom a crime has been committed (the virtual complainant) makes a report to the police, a statement will be taken from him/her and a police investigation into the matter would immediately follow. As a result of these investigations, persons of interest may be arrested and charged, if necessary. The alleged perpetrators are then brought before the Court which will ultimately make a pronouncement on their innocence or guilt after considering the evidence before it.
In recent times, the public has come to expect the timely reports of criminal conduct to be posted via social media. The Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) manages an active Facebook page which displays several publications in relation to recent incidents of wounding, theft, and murder. For context, one of the said publications posted on 17th May, 2021, provides details of the arrest and charge of one Keith Wilson, a labourer, on 16th May, 2021 for theft of livestock which allegedly occurred between 14th and 15th May, 2021.
Now, take note of what has transpired with respect to the alleged shooting of Mr. Cornelius John. Contrary to the norm, the public was only made aware of this incident when the alleged victim spoke to the media two weeks after the shooting allegedly occurred. Prior to this, there were no posts via social media regarding this matter and the RSVGPF’s Facebook page, in particular, remains silent on the matter to this day.
Cornelius John confidently identified one of his alleged offenders as Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House. Through the grapevine, we later learned of the alleged involvement of the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The third party allegedly involved, remains anonymous.
When John’s story gained more traction in the media, it was the Prime Minister and not the Commissioner of Police who confirmed on radio that the matter was under investigation. Since then, no charges have been laid against the alleged perpetrators or the alleged victim and no arrests have been made.
Interestingly, at the last sitting of the House of Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition took a stand on principle and demanded that the Senator/Deputy Speaker withdraw from the House pending the outcome of the investigation. A war of words ensued between him and the Speaker of the House concerning the rules of the House and the timeliness of his demand. Ultimately, this ended in his suspension from the House. I sincerely hope that he will not be the only person sanctioned in relation to this incident.
While we all anxiously anticipate the outcome of the police investigation, I am discontented with the cowardice and spinelessness of those charged with the protection of citizens, the deafening silence of organizations to whom members of our society look for moral and spiritual guidance, and the disengagement of every right-thinking person and organization, whether locally, regionally or internationally based, who sit back, tight-lipped while things run amok in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Barrister-at-law & Solicitor
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