This is not where the matter will end, It cannot be where it ends.
Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday speaking on the Cornelius John matter says this cannot be the end of it because there has been no report from the police that the investigation is over and where the investigation leads.
Mr. John, the complainant, has said he will not let it die at this point because he wants justice. Whoever injured him, he says, must be brought to justice.
Dr Friday says he is cautioning everyone not to see this as purely a matter for or that concerns only the persons mentioned in connection with it.
“We as people who live in this country, must all be concerned about it. Justice is indivisible. It either exists or it does not. You cannot have a little justice, or partial justice, or justice for some and not for others. That would still amount to injustice. In other words, when that exists, it amounts to a negation of justice”.
“This means that the allegations of the shooting and beating of Mr. John and the failure thus far to have a vigorous and transparent investigation transcend the individuals mentioned in connection with the incident. It is a serious challenge to and for the criminal justice system in this country”.
“As someone–an ordinary concerned citizen– asked to me recently, rhetorically: “Do we have one law for some people and another for the rest of us?”
Friday said as a lawmaker in this country, he would want to answer immediately and categorically: “NO”, to reinforce or restore his confidence in the system.
“However, the question underlies the concern that is widespread in SVG. And that is, the fear that our country has descended to the low and dangerous level where the criminal justice system cannot be relied upon to do the right thing; where there is little or no confidence in the police including the COP, and in the DPP and the system in general to do the right thing: the right thing would be to uphold the rule of law and vigorously pursue justice in this and every matter that comes before them”.
“It may be the situation here that the DPP and the COP are too close to those mentioned in the allegations as possible assailants to pursue the matter in a way that would inspire confidence in the general public that they will be able to conduct a full impartial investigation, and prosecution if it comes to that, in this case”.
“In other words, there may be a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest that might prevent them from pursuing the matter properly, and that might induce doubt and disbelief in the public about the performance of their duties”.
Friday said when such circumstances arise, here or elsewhere, it is necessary to install other persons who are not affected by these concerns to conduct the investigation, and where necessary, the prosecution of the matter.
“If it is that the Commissioner of Police and the DPP cannot do their jobs because of a conflict of interest or other reason, them they must recuse themselves and other persons must be appointed to lead the investigation and any prosecution that might flow from that investigation”.
At this point, Friday said it is necessary for the police, and the COP since he has spoken publicly on it, to let the public know what is going on with the investigation of the matter. This cannot be treated as a hush, hush matter.
What will think? Friday asked.
“We know what they are thinking now. They are thinking that not enough is being done to investigate and prosecute the matter, and they fear that not enough will be done in the future as well to ensure Mr John gets justice and the people’s confidence in the criminal justice system and the rule of law is maintained or restored”.
Friday said given the recent incidents of gun-related killings in SVG, most recent the shooting death of former national football goalkeeper, Dwaine Sandy, the role of the police and the DPP’s office in investigation and prosecuting such incidents is critically important.
“Confidence in the police and DPP are of paramount importance. The matter described above undermines that confidence”.