Bus driver after being beaten at the recent protest
Bus driver after being beaten at the recent protest

It is with horror and disbelief that I witnessed (via video recording) the brutality that members of the Dominica Police Force meted out to one Ezrom George at the bus driver protest on 12 April 2021. The actions of these Police Officers were vile, violent and gratuitous. I am very disappointed that not one minister of government, including the Prime Minister, or their spokespersons condemned the brutality of the policemen. They pretended it never happened and instead sought to blame the bus drivers for lawlessness and the political opposition for the protest. Rather than address the violation of Mr. George and holding the Police accountable, the government and their apologists in the media presented the issue as 'Us vs. Them', appealing to political partisanship that has so polarized Dominica.

Civil society organisations, whatever remains of them, were mute on the violation of the human rights of Mr. George. The main private sector representative body, the DAIC, issued a public statement. In part, it says ''In exercising our rights, we must accept the responsibility not to infringe on the rights of others. Law enforcement personnel have the critical responsibility of limiting, if not eliminating, such infringements…The Chamber is also urging law enforcement to utilize crisis management and de-escalation principles…'' Nowhere in the statement does the DAIC explicitly condemns the savage attack on Mr. George's person and his rights.

There is a tendency in Dominica for the mass of the people and organisations to remain silent on the grave ills and challenges that confront us as a nation. They will talk and even become upset about the social injustices in the United States of America but remain silent about injustices in their own society in which they live. They know about the political influence and bias and excesses of the Police. They know of deaths of persons in Police custody and the lack of justice to the victims and their families. They know the Police have become more aggressive and hostile in their interactions with the public as they become increasingly militarized. Yet, there remains a deafening silence. The same attitude characterises the response to abject failures and gross abuses in governance.

The society is increasingly becoming corrupt. It appears as if, with few exceptions, the people have lost agency and removed themselves from what is happening or tolerate the corruption and decadence for exchange of gifts or fear of possible reprisals in some form.

Michael Norris