There are suspicions and fears. There are hopes that, even as circumstances narrow and reduce the possibilities, a loved one may not have met with a terrible end. If it proves accurate, and this paper wishes that it is not so, the reminder is that it is not just anyone, but a witness to the capital offence of murder, as well as the justice that is sought to settle debts due to society.
For when our witnesses to judicial proceedings are tampered with, made examples of, and finished off, then there is so little room left for the survival of security, the extension of peace, and the confidence in our institutions that separate law from chaos, and man from monster. When our witnesses are forced to look over their shoulders, and live in dread for being in the wrong place at the wrong time around the wrong people, then justice is mocked and law enforcement efforts are reduced to naught.
How to protect witnesses is the question? How to safeguard the crucial ones, bold enough to step forward and assist in the seeking of truth and dispensing of fair and equitable punishment is the similar severe challenge?
In a country with a lot of land, there is little space in which to sequester individuals, who serve as witnesses. It is the most unsettling of ironies. In this society, the men and women at many levels in the Guyana Police Force suffer from a lack of trust, a material absence of confidence, in the minds of the widest cross section of the citizenry. And with those, there comes those dreads and woes that make law enforcement’s best intentions subject to every manner of speculation and second guessing.
In this crucible of circumstances, hangs the many fates of the peoples of a country. The fate of the fallen, usually taken away with untimely and brutal finality, through hand-delivered metal strikes or speeding, gas-powered metal-jacketed missiles.
The fate of families crying out for closure, through their pain and hurt. The fate of communities that feel vulnerable, and which reel from shock with every new assault. And, when all of those interrelated fates are taken into account, and absorbed most uneasily, there is still one more to be considered, and it is the one that brings the greatest of shivering.
This paper believes this, because when the fate of the system of justice in this country, or any country for that matter, is imperiled by unknown hands, unmeasurable menaces, and unnerving considerations, then the welfare of one and all is seriously compromised. Instead of the rule of law prevailing, there follows the tyrannies of men, who will stop at nothing to inflict them upon those they determine to be threatening. And whoever is deemed threatening to interests will be taken care of, which just might have been the fatal fate of the person in that burnt out car.
This is not about paying dues or debts or taxes. Although, it is feared that one young man, who worked for both the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Guyana Energy Agency did pay the ultimate price through first his disappearance, and then his suspected absence from life. It could be from the terrible hands of men committed to perpetrating every manner of injustice, without regard to limit or life. The same could be said was the fate of a young woman, who lived in Kitty, a public servant fulfilling her responsibility to her conscience, to her country. She, too, was sent to eternity in a rain of bullets and right at the gate into her home.
If and when wicked men, criminal men, who may also be influential men of means and never lacking in methods, decide to take the law into their own hands and silence witnesses, then a road of scant return is the judicial reality. For when witnesses to serious situations cannot be protected, feel protected, or fail to gain protected status, then the justice system has just been subject to the worst of cave-ins, and from which collapse, the irrecoverable stares in the face.
This country is in a bad place. It becomes increasingly obvious. The whirlwinds sown are now being reaped.
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