To the public as a whole, the members of the Grenada Police Force are objects of hatred, fear and pappy-show, and the image of the Force is that of a group of people whose only function is to protect the private property of the chosen few to assist the regime in keeping power and to keep the masses in their place despite the hunger, starvation and injustice which exist everywhere in our society. The shooting of ten (10) unarmed demonstrators at Pearls Airport in April of 1973 is a good example of this.
It is the system of recruitment to the Force rather than the present members who are to be blamed for the image and practices which take place in the name of law and order.
- The police receive improper or no training;
- They work long and irregular hours;
- They are away from their families and local communities for long periods of time;
- They are abused by the public for acts of physical violence they are commanded to take against our citizens;
- Persons with known criminal records are being recruited to the Force.
If a new and just society is to be created in which there is equality before the law, the role of the police must be new and different.
Persons seeking to join the new Service must possess the basic qualities of leadership, intelligence, good character, discipline and social sense. The teaching of West Indian History, Community Relations, Economics and Law will enable the new breed of policemen and woman to have a balanced outlook and no longer be the Robots of today.
We stress the importance of having the Commissioner of Police come from the ranks of the service, making sure that he or she will be responsible to the country as a whole for official actions.
- A strong Police Association to bargain for members;
- That police officers reside and work in the areas in which they live;
- That the transfer of members to areas away from their families be stopped;
- That the police have regular hours of work and overtime pay for extra hours worked;
- That there be greater involvement by the police in social work;
- That known criminals be removed; and
- That the words Royal and Force be removed and the name be changed to The Grenada Police Service.
The thousands of dollars which will be saved from the present sums being paid to Gairy's Secret Police will be used instead to help to achieve the above objectives.
In the past the settlement of disputes in our society have been solved in the Courts by Ministers of Religion, heal-teachers and persons of outstanding character in the local community. Today, however, the Courts, and in particular the Magistrate's Courts, are used in the settlement of everyday disputes.
THE MAGISTRATE'S COURT-There has been of late a public outcry at the delays and complete lack of regard for persons who appear there as witnesses or defendants. People as a whole no longer respect the institution because of the lack of efficiency and the image these Courts enjoy in our society. We believe the reasons for this are as follows:
- The fact that the Magistrates do not reside in the districts in which they sit and so fail to have any real understanding of the locality and the people;
- The police are able to bramble the Magistrate into adjourning cases then there is no good reason for so doing;
- The Magistrate has to deal with cases of minor anti-social behaviour, e.g. drunkenness, cursing and offences by youth and children, which often are not crimes at all.
Court decisions are very often not complied with;
- Imposing fines which bear no relation to the nature of the offence; and
- The Magistrates are subject to political pressure and displeasure in matters in which the Government may have an interest.
We propose therefore:-
- That Magistrates reside in the district in which they sit:-
- That People's Courts be set up in villages to try petty offences;
- That Magistrates sit on the bench with two or more lay people so that they could be assisted in forming a balanced judgment. This can be experimented with for a period before final implementation.
- That the Magistrates be given full power to supervise fully the administration of their department;
- That the wide powers of heavy fining now allowed to Magistrate's be reduced.
THE PEOPLE'S COURT - The Court would be comprised of elected villagers who will deal with anti-social behaviour of the villagers themselves, e.g. petty theft, absence of children from their school, drunks and young offenders. The sentence of these courts would be the imposition of small fines or compulsory community work.
We feel that being tried by our neighbors and friends would help to reduce anti-social behaviour and assist in promoting a sense of responsibility and community.
THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT - We are satisfied with the present method of appointments to the High Court and Court of Appeal and would be in favour of retaining this system.
THE PRIVY COUNCIL - Self-reliance must be our goal in all the institutions in our State. However, no state like ours could on its own run all its institutions. With our Caribbean neighbors we must establish a Caribbean Court of Appeal in the very near future and abolish appeals to the Privy Council in England.
THE LEGAL DEPARTMENT - We do not see the need for the top heavy, big pay, fancy-named legal officials who staff the Government's legal department. We see the need for an Attorney General and one assistant. They will be responsible for all civil matters in which the State has an interest, and provide legal advice to the Government and draft new laws. The Director of Public Prosecutions, together with an Assistant, will be responsible for all criminal matters in which the State has an interest. He will also be responsible for giving lecture of the Law to the Police Service. We would abolish the post of Solicitor-General.
- The Court dress of the judges and lawyers will be changed to suit our tropical conditions.
- A Law Revision Committee will be set up to promote changes in the law to meet the needs of the society. Representatives will come from all groups within the society under the Attorney-General as Chairman.
- That persons who are presently regarded as illegitimate will be afforded all the rights of persons who are born in wedlock.
- Legal aid will be extended to cover cases other than murder.
- We will give the Law Society an opportunity to agree on a fixed scale of charges to clients. If they can not agree, we will lay down maximum charges for lawyers.
- Reduction of the legal age of majority from 21 to 18 years.
- Raising the marriage age to 16 years.
- Simplifying and revising the law relating to land and conveyancing.
- Various disabilities and disadvantages which women presently suffer under the law will be removed. The Common-Law wife will be guaranteed certain rights and wives will be guaranteed the right to remain in and/or share the value of the matrimonial home and other assets with the husband on a divorce or other dissolution of the marriage.