The drama surrounding the contract of the Commissioner of Police reveals our nation’s values, tests the strength of the commitment we make to our institutions, and shapes the character of our country.
We take our democracy for granted and point to the 1990 attempted coup as a sure sign of its resilience. But that careless confidence makes democracy vulnerable; we allow others to challenge it without considering the consequences.
Underpinning the drama is the Police Service Commission’s gross disrespect of this nation’s people infused with incompetence and arrogance. Our elites fail to recognise that our laws work because the people accept them.
There is no intrinsic value in the statutes except that the people believe them to be fair, serving the common good. The rule of law implies ‘legal accountability, fairness, respect for minorities, the observance of human rights, judicial independence, the separation of powers, equality before the law, the absence of arbitrariness’.
Should that bargain (the consent of the governed) be compromised, anarchy would ensue.
The Commission approved the new short-term contract. How did they arrive at this position in the light of persistent troubling media reports by the Express’ Denyse Renne and Wired868’s Lasana Liburd without engaging them?
These brave journalists published a series of damning articles without a single defamation challenge. Was this for nought? Does investigative journalism help democracy?
How should we and the Commission characterise the shenanigans of the persons recruited by and close to the Commissioner? Or the transfers of officers who fell afoul of Mr Gary Griffith?
When we consider the 2018 accusations made by Wayne Hayde about ‘a continuing pattern of confidential leaks which furthers the interests of Mr Griffith’ and now the incredible email story, what should we conclude? Are we comfortable with the apparent media manipulation throughout Mr Griffith’s tenure?
Why would he appear to nurture what is arguably the second-largest local Facebook private group? How does that group impact the character and results of the Commission’s annual assessments or polls?
Andy Johnson’s excellent assessment (Express, 14 September 2021) was savaged in an ad hominem attack. Were we witnessing a consistent attempt to gain power over truth on several fronts throughout the last three years?
When we consider the unstinting efforts of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to excuse the fiascos around the Police Commissioner and colleagues, how did the Commission’s legal mind help it be independent? What does the intemperate behaviour towards not only the Prime Minister and the Judiciary tell us?
Have we ever witnessed the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police Complaints Authority in such an active mode? On what grounds does a ‘no contract’ Mr Griffith dress down the Minister of National Security? (Express, 17 September 2021)
The unresolved Cecil Skeete murder is profoundly unsettling, as are the deaths of Joel Belcon and Andrew Morris. The increased police killings, including the 2020 Morvant triple killings, leave questions about the observance of human rights.
The Commission failed to appreciate that the job is more than the President’s House photo op—you must courageously put your finger in the dike. Otherwise, the corruption will slowly become more brazen, the intimidation of opponents stronger. Accountability and protection of civil liberties will be weakened.
We witnessed almost a literal replay of Yasin Abu Bakr’s ‘do not loot’ urging. The then Commissioner Griffith said: “All of them have gone silent. As a servant of this country, I adhere to what has been demanded, but all of them, just like St Peter… have said nothing.
“They have done nothing and allowed me to carry my cross, and I will do so cause I am not here looking for support or friends. But I am sure these associations will once again come back asking for more firearms.” (Express, September 2021)
Within hours, the business community responded with fawning Ivan Pavlov-like acclamations of support. Does this amazing exchange pass the corruption test? (Lord Carswell, May 2009)
Why the silence? Are some more equal than others? Are all these events contributing to setting the stage for a right-wing coup?
Doing the right thing is not an abstract concept in complex situations where one right thing must be left undone to achieve another or it requires a leader to do something that may harm. Leadership is a bundle of ethical responsibilities subjected to practical pressures and constraints. Positions of leadership are crucibles of character.
Hobbes explains that there is no room for timidity, or indeed, following all the rules in cases of supreme emergency.
‘[…] For he that should be modest, and tractable, and perform all he promises, in such time, and place, where no man else should do so, should but make himself a prey to others, and procure his certain ruin…’ (Leviathan, Ch. XV, p. 99).
In September 2002, then Prime Minister Patrick Manning was opposed by Ministers Colm Imbert, Dr Keith Rowley, Kenneth Valley, John Rahael and Camille Robinson-Regis over the ‘corrupt’ gift of Mucurapo lands.
The live televised press conference saw the striking image of these five Cabinet ministers standing behind him. Which current Cabinet ministers are supportive and which are adopting Mr Manning’s dictum: ‘This is what democracy is all about. You go after every vote.’ (Newsday, March 2010)?
Is Dr Rowley facing another similar situation? Should he remain silent and unmoving in the assault against our democracy? Would inaction by Dr Rowley serve our nation well?
I think not; I agree with Hobbes. I have lived through the 1990 events.
Editor’s Note: Lord Carswell, of the British Privy Council, said if the contents were true, that private arrangement between Patrick Manning and Yasin Abu Bakr was corrupt within the meaning […] of Section 3 (of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1987) and ‘each party to the agreement was acting in contravention of the section’.
“If the Prime Minister made an agreement on the lines alleged in the affidavit, it could not have been made on behalf of the State,” Carswell said. “The essence of the agreement between the Prime Minister and Mr Abu Bakr on behalf of the Jamaat was that certain advantages would be given to the Jamaat out of state property, in return for securing voting support for the Prime Minister’s political party.”
The local Court of Appeal held that the agreement was illegal at common law. Carswell held that the agreement was illegal from its inception.