BVI News

NDP made last-minute push for Witness Anonymity law before removal from govt

Legislation granting the court the power to protect the identity of witnesses in criminal proceedings has moved a step closer to implementation in the British Virgin Islands.

This is through one of the final decisions the Cabinet made under an NDP administration.

The decision was for instructions to be given to the Attorney General’s Chambers to begin drafting Witness Anonymity legislation.

If or when implemented, witnesses could be granted anonymity if they fear for themselves or perhaps their family’s safety.

In situations where anonymity is required, there is typically a suspected threat of death, injury, retaliation, recrimination, oppression or damage to property if witnesses in question are identified.

While delivering his Speech from the Throne a year ago, Governor Augustus Jaspert said legislators would have introduced the bill in short order.

He described the legislation as “an invaluable tool in assisting with combating serious crime” while at the same time helping to “re-establish public confidence in the criminal justice system”.

The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVPF) has usually had challenges getting witnesses of serious crimes to come forward with information, even in cases where police offer substantial monetary awards. One of the suspected reasons for this includes a fear of their (witnesses) identities becoming exposed.

Lack of confidence in the RVIPF has been often noted as a setback in that regard.

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17 Comments

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  1. Gandalf says:

    How it manages to stay under the radar in our country is really an unknown to me. One of the biggest issues this country has holding us back is the complete and utter ineptitude of the Attorney General’s Chambers. This country is plagued by appalling legal representation, disgraceful drafts of legislation, and awful advice to our elected leaders. If a new AG come sin and is competent they rush them out in order to keep things to the lowest common denominator. We need to clean that house and get people that care for the direction we need our country to go in!
    I’m begging the new Government to take this seriously. You need good and capable people representing and guiding you.

    Like 26
  2. Laura says:

    The code of silence, omertà, has become the norm for our nation, we must now combat this and get this legisltion enacted as soon as possible. (Police and the public will NEVER be bedfellows, so we have to ensure that the chosen few are able to be protected when wanting to assist).

    Common law must be allowed to develop with the times. This is not about an infringement of civil liberties, but about commonsense measures to combat the most serious crimes that are occuring daily within in our nation and taking away the lives of innocent people in most cases.

    Anonymity for witnesses should be as essential as water is to life!#bvipride

    Like 10
  3. BS says:

    They will do anything to help the white commissioner. So anybody can make allegations against you and if they have self interest reasons for doing so you cant challenge them because you dont know who is testifying.

    NDP you were a waste of time and you dont deserve to comeback.

    Like 4
    Dislike 27
    • @BS says:

      Did you read and understand the article. This is something that should have been law years ago. It protects the identity of witness in criminal proceedings, not the Commissioner. This is one of the reasons many witnesses don’t come forward due to lack of protection.

      OAN the members of the force still going talk, we need to pass laws against them.

      Like 17
      • What Time Is It? says:

        @BS I endorse your post. Abuse of tax-payers moneys, in my opinion played a major role in the decision to Booth the NDP from office. Talking about squandering Tax-payers money, I find millions paid on Consultants and that spent on Lawsuits; especially lawsuits appalling. How can it be that we are spending millions upon millions on lawsuits while Attorney General and his learned Attorneys readily available to advise and represent our government and our interest. Rather than running for elected office, my thoughts were/still are that the learned attorney, Mrs Penn-Sallah would have aligned herself with the most likely party to win the election and government; thus opening the way for her to once again occupy the office of the AG.

      • Seriously. says:

        People don’t come forward for lack of confidentiality.

  4. resident says:

    even if this becomes law i will never trust the rvipd with my life so i wouldn’t come forward

    Like 7
    Dislike 5
    • Wow says:

      In response to ‘BS’ & ‘Resident’ above.

      Its incomprehensible to think that you would be against this tool in the fight against crime – unless you’re perpetrators your selves…

      Consider the number of unsolved crimes presently in our country and the ancillary pain to families. This number on its own justifies passage of this legislation.

      God forbid you’re ever a victim, your first aim would be arrest and ultimate conviction. What would it matter to you from whence the information came once it is independently substantiated. It then becomes the perpetrator’s job to disprove such evidence and establish their own innocence.

      And where does race enter into this equation except premised upon ignorance?

      • resident says:

        I never said i was against it, the idea is good but I would never put my life in the hands of anyone else especially a police officer, when we know for a fact that the force has some bad actors inside of it

      • resident says:

        I never said i was against it, the idea is good but I would never put my life in the hands of anyone else especially a police officer, when we know for a fact that the force has some bad actors inside of it.

    • Law abiding citizen says:

      I agree with you 100%. I don’t trust the force.

  5. VILander says:

    This needs to be debated in public. We’re already guilty until proven innocent here, why shouldn’t the accuser have to face the accused. There can always be ulterior motives at play and people must have the right to defend themselves against accusations.

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  6. YOUNG says:

    NEWS THAT WOULD NEVER MAKE IT ON V**O SMH . GOOD JOB NDP

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  7. THE TRUTH says:

    @ WOW…The whole damn world is being run on race…what planet do you live on?

  8. Taken advantage of says:

    Because of their callous, cold, hateful words that they could not protect the VIslander in the workplace, many VIslander suffered at the hands of these white employers. We were bullied and things, others got away with, we didn’t. We were grossly under paid, over worked, and I know personally a job that I recently left, split the tasks I used to do, to be done by 3 staff. Yours and their sheer contempt displayed to us was unnecessary and uncalled for. NDP do not belong in pubic or political office.

  9. Hodges says:

    There are over fifty unsolved murders in the BVI. Maybe this might help solve some. Jus sayin

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