by Linda Straker
- Superintendent, Vannie Curwen: There needs to be a level of caution as to what we play out in public
- When we try these matters in public, we sway a section of our population down a particular path
- Matters that are before the court, must be given a chance to go before the court
A former prosecutor is concerned about the current trends in which matters that are under investigation or heading to court are made the subject of emotional public debate, and or discussion in what appears to be trial in the court of public opinion.
“Something that I have been paying attention to in recent days, it not only concerns me as a police officer but as a former prosecutor. I have noticed that there is quite a lot of publicity of matters that are under investigation by one side or by parties representing sides of the investigations,” said Superintendent, Vannie Curwen, who currently heads the Community Relationship Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force.
“As a police force, we do not have the authority to tell anybody what they could and cannot say in public, but I think it’s a dangerous precedent we are setting when we set our people up to expect a certain narrative or a particular outcome ahead of an investigation,” Curwen said in his closing remarks at a police news conference to explain sections of the updated emergency powers regulations. “At the end, we do not know what will come out of any situation, we do not know how the court will treat any particular matter that is before the court, but when we try these matters in public, we sway a section of our population down a particular path.”
“God forbids that the court does not adhere to the narrative that is out there, you can see how dangerous that can be with the expectation of our people. While we cannot say don’t do it, I think there needs to be a level of caution here as to what we play out in the public, particular for matters that are under investigation or matters that are heading to court for trials,” he said.
“Trials are for the court and we should all let the court make that decision. Matters that are sub-judice meaning that matters that are before the court, must be given a chance to go before the court to be determined and not be determined in the public because there can be significant slippery slopes in doing that.” Curwen did not name any matters he observed as receiving major publicity.
However, a recent altercation over the accidental death of a dog in Fort Jeudy has become the topic of discussion on various social media. Lawyers for both parties have used social media platforms to share details about the matters which is currently under investigation, despite 2 of the accused being charged with causing harm.
The Fort Jeudy incident escalated to the point where hundreds turned out in protest as they called for justice for the person who claims he was beaten up by a family of 4. In the parish of St John, residents of Gouyave also took to the streets protesting the shooting of a footballer. Both incidents have become trendy topics of discussion.