Stuart Young’s out-of-hand rejection of the call for independent, foreign expertise to investigate the death of Andrew Morris while in police custody is not surprising, even if disappointing.
This Minister of National Security has been running with the police pack since he and Gary Griffith, himself a former politician, minister of national security and now Commissioner of Police, were brought on board in August 2018 as the Government’s answer to crime.
In the period since, Mr Young’s silence in the face of a growing list of civilian fatalities at the hands of the police, including killings with video evidence against officers, has provided tacit support for Commissioner Griffith’s modus operandi. Many of these cases have been investigated and documented by this newspaper which has paid the price in harassment, including an unlawful police search of our premises. Minister Young has continued to say nothing as innocent citizens are harassed, demonised and publicly humiliated by CoP Griffith. Indeed, the only thing to put Commissioner Griffith on the wrong side of the Government was his war of words with the Prime Minister over the Bayshore incident in which the police opted not to charge a group cavorting around a pool without masks. In that case, Dr Rowley felt insulted enough to send a formal complaint to the Police Service Commission.
Soon thereafter, with Commissioner Griffith out of the country, Dr Rowley declared himself “disturbed” by the TTPS’ handling of the DSS investigation and took charge, bringing in personnel from the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Now, when there is so much to be disturbed about in the death of Morris, an apparently innocent man, as well as the killing of a prime suspect in the Andrea Bharatt murder and the overall management of the police investigation into her kidnapping, Minister Young is quoting chapter and verse about the powers of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to argue against foreign investigators. The obvious question here is why didn’t Dr Rowley pass the DSS investigation to the PCA instead of the Barbadian police?
If the reasons for using foreign expertise in the DSS case were compelling then they are even more so in the Andrea Bharatt case given what may be at stake for the police hierarchy.
In throwing the ball into the PCA’s court, Minister Young is being wilfully blind to the fear and lack of public trust in the police that have prompted the Law Association, this newspaper and others to demand an independent investigation conducted with foreign expertise. Given his direct management of the case, Commissioner Griffith has a conflict of interest and is therefore in no position to provide an assurance of no police cover-up.
If the PCA accepts this case, knowing the hundreds of police brutality cases it has been forced to close for lack of witnesses, it should know that the public will accept no excuses about non-cooperation from the police or the public. If it is unsure of its capacity for solving the Morris case, the PCA should say so and add its voice to the call for outside assistance.