01 May, 2007

Name and Shame

Concealing Names. We have developed a bad practice in Anguilla of protecting hoodlums from exposure. When the police arrest someone on a serious offence, their names and identities are hidden from the public. At best, their initials are given. To see an example of this practice see this recent article in the Anguillian Newspaper here. There is no law that requires us to be so shy and reticent. We probably learned it from St Maarten. The Daily Herald Newspaper there does not even give the names of criminals after they have been convicted, far less when they are merely out on bail.

That is why I was my attention was caught by an article in the Royal Gazette of Bermuda recently. It read in part,

Dar-Ronte Dill, of Fenton's Drive, Pembroke, was arrested on Sunday for allegedly possessing weed and a bladed article.

He has not even been convicted. He has just been arrested. They do not just give his name, they give us his address. The little monster will walk around for the next few months with the knowledge that every one of his friends and family in Bermuda will be watching him. He will be under heavy manners to behave himself.

It has been suggested that it is a good practice because everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. Rubbish! That is a rule that Judges and Magistrates follow when they are determining the guilt of an accused. That is not how you behave when you are looking out for your safety on the street. That is not how we behave in real life.

Others say it is a rule imposed on us by the British. Nonsense! Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory, just like Anguilla. No one can be heard to say that British law and custom demands our cowardly practice, or it would not be allowed in Bermuda. No one can say it protects the children. All his friends and family know when he is arrested, without his name being published in the Newspaper. What is salutary is the fear and knowledge that your name and address will be published for all the world to know, if you are caught committing an offence. I would like to see more of that in Anguilla.

Dose anyone have any idea why we shield these little monsters?


  1. Information management here in Anguilla has always been on a need to know basis. The ruling class has the information and the rest of us don't need to have it. The main difference between the plantation days and now is that today the people we elect to do the people's business claim they are open, transparent and accountable. All thinking persons know this is a lie. If all of us knew what they know, they would have little power over us, so they lie to us instead of giving us the open government legislation that the Constitutional Review Commission has recommended.

    Government entities led by emotionally immature functionaries maintain their power over us by treating public information the same way poor people treat money: there is a shortage. If I give you what I have, I'll have none for myself.

    Our newspaper suffers from the Dame Eugenia Charles complex, where "good manners, hard work and godliness count for more than vision, experiment and community", as The Guardian commented in her obituary.

    It's pathetic.

  2. It is nonsense not to post names, but then so much of what goes on regarding law/police on Anguilla makes no sense. Come on now. A 19 year old male (JP) and 24-year-old male (TP), both from the North Valley. Are those in power really stupid enough to think the working folk can't figure it out?

  3. Good manners, hard work and Godliness count for something when You think of the opposite. Leave Dame Eugenia out of this. She has done her work and now she is with God.

    I am all for publishing full names once the suspect is convicted of the crime, once he has been found guilty and his identity should be made known to the public.

    However: I am totally against the full publication of names when someone is simply arrested for a crime. We all know that mistakes can and are made in terms of arrests. It 's embarrassing to have my full name published in the news media just because I am accused and arrested for a crime.

    What happens when I'm found innocent? Who will apologize to me and my family, kids, friends, and associates? Will I get a front pg apology in the news paper? Will My innocence be the top story in all the news media for a week? If not then please do not make me guilty until I am proven innocent.

    Publish my name by all means after I have been convicted...let me bear my shame. But absolutely not before. Do not damage my reputation before an actual conviction. If you do then at least give me some room so that I can SUE somebody for tarnishing my reputation and for pain and emotional distress and embarrassment.

  4. With freedom of information any co
    mpetent journalist should be able to go the RAPF and ask for the
    names of those arrested or charge with an offence. The problem here is not the police. Our problem is years of few invetsigative journalists. We would rather hire high school drop outs to play music all day, than try and get a professional media staff who in addition to playing music can also read.

  5. If I am arrested on a mistake, I am already irreparably damaged in the eyes of my community. There is little that I can do in law to recover damages from the person who made the false complaint that caused my arrest. The reason given by lawyers is that the arrest was caused by the Magistrate who issued the warrant for my arrest, not the person who made the complaint. The Magistrate is supposed to make an independent judgment whether I should be arrested. The Magistrate cannot be sued for doing her job, so long as she did not do it maliciously.

    I am damaged because in a small community like Anguilla everyone who knows me and everyone who is related to me will know about the arrest in minutes after it occurs. If I am well known, then the entire community will know about it regardless of whether it is published or not. The only ones who will not know about it are the people who are not related to me or do not know me. They are often the ones who most need to be alerted. Unless it is murder or something really serious like that, I am going to be released on bail in a few days. That is inevitable, since it is my right to my freedom unless I am a flight risk or will interfere with the witnesses.

    Many people would argue that, once I am arrested and charged, the public have a right to know about who I am and what charges have been brought against me so that they can look out and protect themselves. That is why, in my opinion, it is generally a false safeguard to shield my name, address, occupation and photograph, and the details of the charges that have been brought against me, from the public when I have been arrested and not yet convicted. By all means put in a little note that “All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.” But, give the public the information they need to protect themselves. It is just my opinion.

  6. Good manners, hard work and godliness are not to be compared with their opposites, but with what constitutes an effective, informative and dynamic newspaper. I don't know where Dame Eugenia is today but I know we have a pathetic newspaper that serves the ruling class far better than it does the people. A good newspaper is a vital part of any democracy and ours has failed us badly. We can ill afford this, when so many of our instruments of government are serving us so poorly.

  7. Another popular myth is that if I am arrested and the prosecution fails to prove its case against me to the satisfaction of the jury, I have been "proven innocent."


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.