Twice a victim – Editorial

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A seminal moment has occurred in Nevis. A witness to a criminal activity was sentenced to time in jail for her  ”inability to recall” what she saw…i.e. for refusing to answer questions; or in plain language, for lying.

Interestingly, she had previously testified for the prosecution, but that trial returned a hung jury. Our investigation indicated that the jury was hung even before the case started, the Prosecution was warned,  butthey went ahead anyway.   We understand that she was denied witness protection, but even this does not explain this puzzle of her refusal to answer, especially as she asserted to the Judge that she was neither scared nor threatened.

We understand that she is no longer an employee of the institution that was robbed. Was she pushed out or did she leave voluntarily?  Is it that she feels no further obligation to the business place that she left behind?  Has she been “settled” out of Court?

Whatever was the motivation, this case offers many lessons.  We are of the view that the woman was traumatised by the event of having a gun pointed in her face and her life threatened.  She is probably still worried about the welfare of her family.  What counselling support has been provided to her, to them?  If round- the- clockprotection couldn’t be offered, did the prosecution stay in touch anyway, just to show concern to her welfare?

Has the Court enquired sufficiently into the situation before so quickly sentencing the witness to a second traumatic experience of 8 days in jail? Where and when will it end if she sticks to her refusal to co-operate?   Will this punishment really help in the fight against crime?    Is it time for jurors to be drawn from sister islands (in and out of federation)  in order to avoid the familiarity that allegedly resulted in the hung jury? Is the OECS really one single space for every aspect of life?

Ms Daniel, you clearlypossess inner strength to stand up to the judicial system.  That strength would better be shown by telling the Court what you know.  We encourage you to do so next time around.  Let your conscience be clear now and forever.  If those charged are cleared, let it not be because of your complicity; and please, keep out of jail. There is no need for you to be a victim twice.

Your family needs you.  The people need you.  Nevis needs you to restore its peace.  Stand up for what is right!