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Keeping an Eye on the People’s Business: When the Law is an ass or Was it?



by Sandra CA Ferguson

“…the law is an ass — an idiot. …and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.” (quote adapted from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens)

  1. The Law Is An Ass

The “law is an ass” kept reverberating in my head when I heard about the verdict and fine handed down in the case of an adult male who induced a 5-year-old boy left in his care, to perform sexual acts on him – a $2,100 fine, $1,500 to be paid to the government coffers and $600 to be paid for counselling services to the child. What a travesty! What insult! What indignity to the personhood of the child and his family!! Less we forget, it is INJUSTICES like these which cause those who have been violated to take the law into their own hands with TRAGIC consequences for all!!

According to information gleaned from various media reports,

  • the adult in question is “an elder” in a church
  • the legal counsel representing the elder “presented psychological and biosocial reports” to explain his client’s actions.

In my “unschooled in law” opinion:

  • Church Elder: If the adult is “an elder” in a church, this means that he occupies some position of seniority, responsibility and influence in his church. And given the nature of this crime, this fact should increase the severity of his sentence, not mitigate it.
  • Psychological/Bio-social Reports: If the legal counsel presented “psychological and biosocial reports” to provide an explanation for his client’s actions, then legal counsel presented EVIDENCE which proved that this “elder” was in URGENT need of help and was a danger to himself, to society and to children in particular. The logical thing, it would seem, was to have remanded him for further psychological evaluation. Was he himself a victim of such traumatic abuse as a 5-year-old?
  • Crime and Time: The $600 fine does not reflect the ENORMITY of the crime and its lifelong adverse psychological impact /trauma on the abused child.

Something went dreadfully wrong in this case and we the people are justifiably enraged! The prompt action of the police prosecution in appealing the case is to be applauded. But how and why did this travesty occur? Was it the LAW? The concerns and observations made by several influential persons of the legal and other professions on this issue have been noted. Will the concerns be heard, will there be systemic change which will ensure that such a TRAVESTY does not occur in the future?

  1. We the People and the Role of Parliamentarians

It is useful for we the people to BE AWARE that is Parliament which makes and changes laws. It is we the people who vote persons into office to be our representatives in the House, to be the LAWMAKERS and to be the caretakers and stewards of our business. For years, the advocates of women and children’s rights have called for a reform of the laws of Grenada to adequately address the issues of violence against women and the abuse of children. Among the prominent advocates were Brenda Hood and Ann David-Antoine – both of whom served as Chairpersons of the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child, then went on to become Ministers in the NNP administration.

  1. Women in Parliament

The New National Party administration is justifiably proud of its record re the number of women parliamentarians.

  • In the 2003-2008 administration, there were five (5) female ministers – including Sen. Hood and Sen. Antoine. Three of these ministers were elected members of parliament.
  • In the 2013-2018 administration, there were five (5) female ministers, all of whom were elected members of parliament.
  • And within the current administration, there are seven (7) elected, female parliamentarians – 47% representation of women in Parliament, currently has one of the highest figures in the Commonwealth region.

Impressive Numbers vs. the Protection of Women and Children

How have these “impressive numbers” advanced the legislative reform agenda for the protection of women and children in Grenada? Does one get the sense of a women’s agenda/ children’s agenda being advanced by the honourable women? Do we see a women’s/children’s agenda influencing decision making and allocation of the budget resources? How is it that Grenada has spent $23 million on a new one-purpose Parliament building on the former Government House Grounds, while the state of the health services is at its lowest in the history of post-Independence Grenada and a number of schools are in disrepair, notwithstanding the official, mind-boggling growth rates being reported?

Does the country have its PRIORITIES right? Are our women parliamentarians influencing those priorities in the way we want them to/expected for the protection, security and advancement of women and children?

Just recently, we the people were appalled by the Calistra Farrier – Sen. Rev. Dr Garraway- Minister Modeste-Curwen incident at the conclusion of a post-Cabinet briefing of 10 September when Sen. Garraway prevented Farrier, a freelance journalist, from gaining access to Min. Modeste-Curwen who had agreed to an interview with her. Sen. Garraway instructed the veteran Member of Parliament/Senior Minister not to respond to the question and escorted her out of the room. then blocking the door to intercept Farrier – notwithstanding that Min. Modeste-Curwen advised Sen. Garraway that she was prepared to accommodate the journalist’s question. While attempting to gain access to Min. Modeste-Curwen, Farrier tumbled to the ground and in an audio recording, the male minister can be heard accusing Farrier of being a “liar” and “rebuking evil spirits/demons”. It is understood that the matter appeared to have been a HEARTY JOKE for the female Minister of Legal Affairs while the veteran Minister appeared incapable /reluctant to intervene and walked away from the scene with Farrier still on the ground.

Real Status of Women Parliamentarians

  • If a veteran minister and an ELECTED representative of the people for some 20 consecutive years, since 1999:-
    • cannot in HER own deliberate judgment CHOOSE to answer a question pertinent to a serious matter which took place in HER constituency – being prevented from doing so by an UNELECTED MALE colleague, a religious leader, who also appears to not understand his boundaries as minister of government and minister of religion;
    • is unable/unwilling to intervene on behalf of a female journalist (incidentally from her own constituency) to whom she made a commitment regarding an interview,
  • If the Minister of Legal Affairs, also a female parliamentarian, considers the whole incident a HEARTY JOKE,

…then what can we the people expect of our women parliamentarians? Does 7 of 15 really mean anything? Are our women parliamentarian interested in influencing anything or are they merely “window dressing”? Do these female parliamentarians really understand their special role? Are they committed to the protection of women and children?

  1. Call to Action: Minding Our Business

We the people should remember that the protection of women and children is OUR BUSINESS. We have a responsibility to MIND OUR BUSINESS and that includes holding those whom we have elected to be our representatives and caretakers/stewards of our affairs – both the women and the men – ACCOUNTABLE for how they represent us, protect our women and children and spend our money. We must ensure OUR money is spent on PRIORITIES rather than on intended showpieces.

That verdict and $2,100 fine was a CALL TO ACTION for the protection of our women and children, a call to mind our business! Are we the people going to answer, in the affirmative? The CHOICE is ours!

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Caribbean & World

Grenadian mas’ band hosts carnival design workshop for secondary school students




One of the newest entrants on the carnival mas band scene, ORO Luxury Carnival, continues to raise the bar as it relates to its program of activities for Spicemas 2020. ORO hosted a Carnival Design Workshop at the Grenada National Stadium on Wednesday, 12 February 2020, at which 3 students from 7 government secondary schools attended a full-day workshop that focused on aspects of Grenada’s traditional mas’ and offered the students, who were also accompanied by a teacher from each school, an opportunity to learn first-hand some of the basic concepts of carnival costume design.

The event was endorsed by the Spicemas Corporation, and included a presentation by Spicemas CEO, Kelvin Jacob, who spoke at the opening ceremony and facilitated a presentation on Grenada’s traditional mas’ for the students. Also attending and speaking at the opening ceremony, was Shirma Wells, CEO, Grenada Cultural Foundation; and Dr Cheryl Bernabe-Bishop, Head of Curriculum in the Ministry of Education.

Head of Marketing for ORO Luxury Carnival, Sheldon Keens-Douglas, addressed the group of excited students and challenged them to think of carnival as a business enterprise that could sustain many entrepreneurial careers. He said, “When we started ORO Luxury Carnival, we wanted to look at carnival from the perspective of the masquerader, the sponsor and the entrepreneur. ORO, which is the Spanish word for ‘Gold’ was chosen to represent the band, as the group of local professionals behind the band set out to create a ‘gold standard’ in the local Carnival industry.

At our first event held in December 2019, where we introduced the concept of ORO to sponsors, media, and influencers, we also introduced the idea of looking at ways to build a sustainable resource base of young Carnival entrepreneurs. This workshop that is being held today is the realization of that early vision. We also want to thank Geo. F Huggins Grenada Ltd, Sandals Grenada, VINSHE Inc., and DutyFree Caribbean for recognizing the value of what we were doing and instantly lending their support as sponsors.” Students at the workshop were presented with a Certificate of Participation.

Students pay close attention to ORO Chief Designer, Sandra Hordatt

The design aspect of the workshop was facilitated by ORO’s Chief Designer, Sandra Hordatt, who is based in Trinidad and has over 20 years of experience in some of the twin-island republic’s best-known carnival mas’ bands. Sandra expressed her delight at the enthusiasm of the students and the way in which they applied their newly gained knowledge in the group exercise to design and create a carnival costume which formed part of the day’s activities.  Also assisting with the practical design element was well-known local designer, Damani Brizan, who is half of the family design duo, Shireen & Damani Brizan.


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Caribbean & World

Independence an inevitable result of colonialism




 by Norris Mitchell

When we consider our roots from whence we came, it should not be too difficult to follow the sequence of events which have led to the present stage of our Caribbean civilisation.

Having just celebrated our 46th year of “political” independence, it should serve us well to retrace our steps historically, and to examine, analyse and (to) consider how we have evolved from the tyranny of the middle passage in the 15th and 16th centuries to what we have become today.

This discourse, however, would not dwell too much on the atrocities of slavery and the pain and suffering of our forefathers by the European slave masters but would move fast-forward into the period of colonisation after slavery was abolished in 1834, when a new global political, economic and social order had been established, at about the same time when beet sugar in Europe was cheaper to produce than cane sugar from paid black labour in the Caribbean (Eric Williams – Capitalism and Slavery).

In 1950 a Caribbean intellectual from Martinique, Aimé Césaire (pronounced A-mere C-zaire) in his polemic entitled “Discourse on Colonialism” had this to say:

“We are facing an era where fools are calling for the renewal of colonialism… the fact is while colonialism in its formal sense might have been dismantled, the colonial state has not. Many of the problems of democracy are products of the old colonial state whose primary difference is the presence of black faces.”

“It has to do with the rise of a new ruling class – the class which Fanon warned us about – who are content with mimicking the colonial masters, whether they are the old-school British or French officers, or the new US corporate rulers… As the true radicals of postcolonial theory will tell you, we are hardly in a “postcolonial” moment. The official apparatus might have been removed, but the political, economic and cultural links established by colonial domination still remain with some alterations.”

“What we have however, hardly reflects our imagination and vision: The same old political parties, the same armies, the same method of labour exploitation, the same education, the same tactics of incarceration, exiling, snuffing out artists and intellectuals who dare to imagine a radically different way of living, who dare to invent the marvellous before our very eyes.”

And, to complement Césaire’s postcolonial list, I would like to add, a national anthem, a coat of arms, a flag and a “prime minister”.

Seven decades on Césaire’s polemics are as relevant today (2020) as it was then; it was he who invented the term Negritude (Black consciousness) which has influenced the thinking of some African leaders and the Black Power movement of recent Caribbean history.

If we are to extricate ourselves from the current obsolete method of governance, it is incumbent on those of us, and the converted – who contemplate “Independence as an inevitable offspring of Colonialism” in our Grenada of 2020 and beyond, to embrace and educate the youth – beginning immediately from the primary school level, into a new way of perceiving and developing their country/our country, to a higher level of consciousness for the benefit of all Grenadians, where the resources of the country are developed and equitably and prudently distributed, and justice for all will become an expected reality. (Paradise regained).

There is too much at stake to allow the current trend of corrupt anglophone political leadership, Grenada included (one-manism), to remain unchallenged. Our Caribbean civilisation in my view has already taken a backward movement in the last two or three decades on account of the current calibre of our political leadership.

To support this conclusion, the following (Grenadian) examples would suffice: The continuing collapse of the infrastructure of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique – the Moliniere main road national disaster comes to mind on account of arrogance and gross incompetence resulting in the slippage of the hillside and the road into the sea, for which the Grenada taxpayer will pay dearly, willing or not.

The continued deterioration and neglect of our Capital City. The recent fires bear testimony and bring to the fore the government’s lack of appreciation for the value of Grenada’s patrimony especially our built and cultural heritage, as year after year for the past 20 years no funds are budgeted for repairs to our civic buildings and sites. Fort George, York House, the Market Square, the Public Library, the 3-storey police barracks on Melville Street and Government House come to mind, not forgetting the parking and traffic nightmare in the town and the unaccounted funds from the sale of our passports, with the “giveaway” of our best lands to foreigners in questionable secret deals, not beneficial to Grenada.

In this regard, where does the plan regarding the proposed first “Caribbean Climate-Smart and Resilient City of St George’s” fit in? A new ministry was created in 2018 to conceive, design and execute this ambitious project which, if implemented and properly managed could redefine our Grenadian image and identity. Apart from an occasional statement from the minister on television regarding funding, the public is unaware of any ACTUAL (concrete) groundwork that has been done so far. Let’s hope that this is not another pie in the sky proposal/project to which we have become accustomed.

Additionally, the hijacking of all our democratic institutions, notably of which is the ELECTORAL PROCESS. Is the Supervisor of Election and his staff, who should take instructions from no one including the prime minister, an independent agency as required by our constitution, in order to ensure a free and fair election, which would reflect/represent the will of the people? The emasculation of the Public Service Commission, now reduced to an instrument of victimisation for those in the public service who are perceived to be disloyal to, or untrustworthy by the prime minister. (Read Richard Duncan’s “Walking the straight and narrow – perspective in Grenada’s public administration”). Echoes of the ordeal of Gemma Bain-Horsford, ousted Cabinet Secretary; the concocted Fiscal Protection Act, in order to deprive teachers and public servants of their hard-earned 25% gratuity and pension after almost 30 years of service, as guaranteed in our constitution, and the collapse of our health services.

This latter was highlighted by the unscheduled arrival of a chartered private flight from China, under the cloak of darkness at 2 am on 28 January 2020 at the height of an international coronavirus alert, originating in China. A “caring” government which puts a few investment dollars, the benefits of which are never seen by Grenadians, over the health and wellness of its people, accompanied by rising crime and poverty. (“Not a day without the struggle” – Maurice Bishop).

If the slide is not halted, and the gains and accomplishments made/achieved over the years, are not protected, these could be irrevocably lost, which could perhaps take another century of this backward neo-colonial governance, before it could be regained. The crisis bells are ringing for the urgent reconstruction and remedial action for a political change for the better, in the unacceptable state of Grenadian “democratic” affairs.

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Caribbean & World

Prime Minister speaks out against child abuse




Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, has called for a unified approach to fighting child abuse.

Dr Mitchell urged persons to speak out against abuse, which according to him, has no place in our society. He said opting to remain silent on such an important issue is equivalent to being complicit.

Delivering his 2020 Independence Day Address, the Prime Minister said, “Let me state categorically that child abuse in any form, has no place in our society, or any society for that matter. As a government, we are unable to fight this scourge alone and so we call on the churches, family members, mothers, fathers, societal leaders, members of the community, let us all continuously speak up and speak out against this serious issue. When we stand in silence and allow it to occur, we become equally complicit in this travesty.”

The Prime Minister gave assurances that government will do all within its power to tackle child abuse. He said, “The government would make every effort to strengthen the law and other infrastructure to deal with the perpetrators and seek recourse and assistance for the victims; however, our preference is to not have any victims at all.”

According to statistics from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), there were 179 victims of child abuse in 2019, down from 294 in 2018, which reflects a 39% reduction. Statistical data also reveals that children between the ages of 13 and 16 are most affected.

Inspector Andrea Noel-Victor of the Special Victims Unit (SVU) said the RGPF has a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse and they are hoping to see a further reduction in the number of victims as they move aggressively to deal with perpetrators. She said, “We have been focusing more on public awareness and sensitisation of children and others in the community, through lectures in schools, meetings with Parent Teacher Associations and other community-level engagements. We are seeing a growing level of confidence in the unit and more and more victims are coming forward to report these crimes. In fact, we just had a victim come forward after 20 years and charges have been laid against the perpetrator.”

The RGPF is also placing emphasis on training to enhance the ability of police officers to deal with these sensitive cases.

Inspector Noel-Victor confirmed that the RGPF has developed a holistic response, working in tandem with the Ministry of Social Development, the Child Protection Authority and other entities involved in the fight against child abuse. She noted too that the courts are very responsive in dealing with such cases and they are usually successful in getting matters expedited, particularly as they relate to protection orders stemming from incestuous cases.

Office of the Prime Minister

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