To name or not to name, that is the ques­tion!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - BY Toni Ni­cholas

It was on Wed­nes­day that the word spread like wild­fire that the na­tion had recorded yet an­other broad-day­light, bold-as­brass rape. On RCI’s mid­day news it was re­ported that two in­di­vid­u­als had en­tered a store, ca­su­ally lock­ing the door be­hind them, and had rav­aged the store at­ten­dant. Ac­cord­ing to the news item, po­lice had not yet con­firmed the in­ci­dent, al­legedly oc­cur­ring the day be­fore. The con­fir­ma­tion came only af­ter the broad­cast—with news that there had been an­other rape, on Fe­bru­ary 6, of a Bri­tish tourist at her ho­tel.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice press state­ment: “On Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 16, 2016 about 5:00 p.m. a re­port of rape was made to the Gros-Islet Po­lice sta­tion by a store at­ten­dant of Mon­gi­raud, Gros-Islet. On the stated date about 4:30 p.m. two masked men en­tered her store in a men­ac­ing man­ner. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports the store at­ten­dant was tied and al­legedly raped.”

Also on Wed­nes­day the po­lice is­sued a press re­lease head­lined: “Rape Charge Against Po­lice Of­fi­cer!”

A short time later the po­lice press re­la­tions of­fice seemed to cor­rect it­self. The orig­i­nal com­mu­niqué had fea­tured the ac­cused “se­nior con­sta­ble” by name. Af­ter his ap­pear­ance be­fore the First District Court to be or­dered back on Fe­bru­ary 23 the po­lice is­sued yet an­other re­lease— with­out the of­fi­cer’s name. The press re­la­tions depart­ment also took the op­por­tu­nity to re­mind the press that “ac­cord­ing to law, we should not dis­play or say the name of the ac­cused in the rape mat­ter.”

Ac­cord­ing to the law “af­ter a per­son is charged with an of­fence . . . any mat­ter that is likely to lead mem­bers of the pub­lic to iden­tify a per­son as the com­plainant or as the ac­cused in re­la­tion to that charge shall not be pub­lished in a writ­ten pub­li­ca­tion or be broad­cast in this State ex­cept a) if on the ap­pli­ca­tion of the com­plainant or the ac­cused the court di­rects that the ef­fect of the re­stric­tion is to im­pose a sub­stan­tial and un­rea­son­able re­stric­tion on the re­port­ing of pro­ceed­ings and that it is in the pub­lic in­ter­est to re­move the re­stric­tion in re­spect of the ap­pli­cant; or b) in the case of the ac­cused, af­ter the per­son has been tried and con­victed of the of­fence . . . A per­son who pub­lishes or broad­casts any mat­ter in con­tra­ven­tion of sub­sec­tion (1) com­mits an of­fence and is li­able on con­vic­tion on in­dict­ment to a fine of $50,000 and to im­pris­on­ment for three years.”

There­fore, it is more than pass­ing strange that not only did the po­lice give away the name of the ac­cused, they also re­leased ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing his back­ground. What then?

What to make also of the three young men who were ac­cused of rap­ing two teenage girls last year, and who were por­trayed by the me­dia on their way to a court hear­ing last year for all to see and iden­tify?

Maybe the po­lice press re­la­tions depart­ment can is­sue a les­son or two on that but first, as the say­ing goes, maybe char­ity should be­gin at home.

Un­der the law it is il­le­gal for the vic­tims of rape and the ac­cused to be named or iden­ti­fied. It is an is­sue that is be­ing de­bated par­tic­u­larly in the case of the ac­cused. There are also calls in some quar­ters for Saint Lu­cia to in­sti­tute a registry of con­victed sex

of­fend­ers.

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