Law and Disorder in 2018
Murder in broad daylight on a busy street in Roseau; unexplained delays in the opening of the High Court more than a year after Hurricane Maria; and sue, sue, sue- aptly describes law and order in Dominica in 2018.
Firstly, senior police officers Davidson Valarie and Cuffy Williams went to court for judgement over a search that one superintendent conducted at the other's home just after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica with category five winds on 18 September 2017.
Cuffy Williams, the claimant, sued Davidson Valarie, the first defendant, for conducting the search at Williams' home at Bellevue Chopin.
Then three more police officers, constables Earl George and Jude Vigilant and Sergeant Joeffrey James filed separate law suits against the Government of Dominica and Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon over similar issues.
Another police officer Superintendent of Police Cleville Mills won a libel case against radio talk show hosts Matt Peltier and Angelo Allen of Q95 FM. Thus Dominica's court taught radio talk show hosts an EC$160,000 lesson. That's a very expensive one.
Almost a year after the Roseau East bridge was completed Judge Bernie Stephenson dismissed the Roseau Bridge Judicial Review Case.
The case for judicial review was filed by three associations of contractors, engineers and architects who charged that the Government of Dominica had illegally, in contravention of the Public Procurement and Contract Administration Act of 2013, granted a contract to a company for the construction of an EC$18 million bridge over the Roseau River. The contractors completed that bridge in May 2017.
Judge Stephenson declared that the potential applicants did not have an arguable case and hence the matter would not go to trial. The contractors association said it would appeal.
Judge Stephenson also ruled in favor of the government in a matter that went back to the last general election held in 2014. After the polls, six people filed criminal complaints against DLP candidates for treating in the run-up to the election.
In 2018 also Government was sued for the widespread looting after Hurricane Maria. Six business owners in Roseau, the victims of massive looting after Hurricane Maria have filed a lawsuit against the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of Justice, Immigration & National Security and the Attorney General for "breach of statutory duty and negligence."
In its defence the Government argued the matter ought to be struck out and furthermore, the law does not provide for compensation for "loss including theft following a riot, civil commotion, strife or civil disobedience."
Additionally, they contended that the law of negligence does not impose a duty on the police "to protect private individuals or property in the midst of or during" events like Hurricane Maria and, in addition, the Police Act does not legally command the police to protect private property during events like hurricanes.
Post-Maria delays in setting up the Roseau High Court hurt lawyers and legal workers. Lawyers said that their businesses were dying and workers at the Roseau High Court also complained that mold was killing them. A dozen lawyers protested by walking in tandem, in the blazing sun, from the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard to Government Headquarters to "complain". First the date for resumption of the High Court was set for September, then October and now it is scheduled to open in January 2019.
Rayburn Blackmore, the National Security Minister, said the government intended to tighten guns laws after a spate of deadly shootings linked to drugs and guns.
In August three men were shot and killed while another nursed gun shots wounds at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) while in July a man was gunned down in Newtown. Another man was shot in Silver Lake and another in the middle of Kennedy Avenue in broad daylight.
The police mounted several road blocks in strategic areas conducting random search on vehicles. Police officers also mounted searches in Grand Bay, Bath Estate and Fond Cole.