December 15, 2006
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The brutish dumping of the body of a 70-year-old man in a clump of bush in Ruimveldt, last week, must surely convince even the most Christian that compassion for fellow citizens and concern for human life are vanishing virtues in the community.
After apparently hitting down the cyclist along Homestretch Avenue, the minibus driver told his passengers to disembark so that he could take the injured man to the hospital. But, in an aberrant variant to the hit-and-run accident, he never took the man to a hospital but callously threw him on the roadside some distance away.
Every other day, on average, some grisly story of arson, battery, murder, rape or fatal road accident is reported; the cadaver of unidentified destitute persons is 'found' in a canal or on a parapet; a 'suspect' in a confrontation with the police is shot dead; or a domestic dispute ends in death. Normal people are becoming inured to news of abnormal deaths.
Chief Fire Officer Lawrence David disclosed that of the cases of arson reported this year, Fire Service investigations revealed that domestic quarrels, disputes over properties and revenge were among the main motives for those crimes. In some, such as at Soesdyke in July and Port Kaituma in October, victims were deliberately burned alive as they slept.
Traffic Chief Roland Alleyne also reported that the majority of fatal road accidents were caused by reckless driving and speeding and several claimed multiple lives: among them, five at Mahaica in January; three at Golden Fleece in March; four at Moblissa in July; and three siblings at Philadelphia in October.
Crime Chief Heeralall Makhanlall, who is Head of the Police Criminal Investigation Department, reported a surge in the number of 'execution-style' murders which, it is widely suspected, are associated with drug-gang warfare and vendettas and now account for about one-third of all murders.
There is little doubt that violence by the state towards its citizens in institutions such as schools, the courts, police and the prisons has much to do with the attitudes evinced by citizens towards each other. A good place to start to reverse the trend, therefore, is for the Administration itself to take a stand against all forms of violence including the alleged extra-judicial killings by the police and all other unnatural deaths. Should there be prompt and impartial inquires into all deaths involving the police, or inquests into other unnatural deaths, and were persons found culpable to be prosecuted, the bloodletting could be staunched.
The Administration also needs to take comprehensive measures to counter sexual violence by establishing more efficient mechanisms to deal with such complaints and to ensure that the police, in particular, are trained to investigate charges of sexual violence with the same rigour as they supposedly investigate homicides or other serious crime.
Adults usually learn brutish behaviour as children; this emphasises the need to protect children from all violence including abuse, discrimination, exploitation, neglect, maltreatment including corporal and humiliating punishment at school. If the cycle of brutish behaviour is to be broken, the Administration must do much more than at present.
As President Bharrat Jagdeo remarked in the aftermath of the 26 February Agricola massacre: "Something is wrong with the people we are bringing up in the country. We have all failed, and that includes the Government." How true!