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Closure needed

The time has come again for us to mark the anniversary of the events which brought an end to the darkest days in our history when the whole country was placed under 'house arrest' in a dusk to dawn 'shoot on sight' curfew which was imposed by the Ruling Military Council following the carnage which erupted on Fort (George) Rupert just under a week earlier and which itself brought an end to the treasonable People's Revolutionary Government.

Because of the nature of the earlier events many attempts are constantly being made by certain people -who should themselves have been placed behind bars when the end came and tried for the treason they had been part of four and a half years earlier - to put an unwarranted gloss over the 'revolutionary' period and pretend that if the merciful liberation of the intervention had not happened Grenada would have leapt forward in every possible way.

But people who are not carried away by rhetoric and are well seised of the facts know that the so-called 'revolution' was already crumbling and agree with one of its chief organisers and perpetrators - Bernard Coard - that the seeds of September 19, 1983 were sown on March 13, 1979.

However, we also agree with another perpetrator who said that the grieving process should be over. Indeed we would extend on that and say that whilst we could never forget the events of the entire four and a half years when the constitution and rule of law were prostituted and more than two thousand of our citizens were imprisoned without charge or trial, it is time to put closure to the period.

But this can never be done while seventeen of our citizens, who were virtually railroaded into prison, continue to languish there in very litlle more recognition of the rule of law and the constitution than the PRG exercised.

We have argued before and we continue to hold to the truth that the seventeen did not receive a completely fair trial, that it was wrong - perhaps even illegal, but certainly unconstitutional - when the end finally came to pass a special law to exclude them from appeal to the OECS Supreme Court and deny them access to the Privy Council, a right granted to all citizens of the country under the constitution.

It is also a most inexplicable and unacceptable truth that three successive governments since the completion of what passed for legal process in respect of the matter more than ten years ago have all failed to complete the necessary arrangements to provide those who have been condemned and some of whom were close to being hanged with the written judgment which disallowed their appeal to a home grown court.

We call on the present government, which has been taking the initiative in many important areas and tidying up some matters that it inherited in an unsatisfactory way, and which is also a government which claims to espouse unity and reconciliation to tidy up this matter as well by taking the necessary to secure the written judgment to which the convicted persons are entitled.

We also urge that the government either examine the possibility of reversing the decision to deny them access to the Privy Council or, even better, to recognise that they have spent a long enough time in a system where they have shown repentance for their acknowledged misdeeds and have been model prisoners who have helped to give the prison a good name throughout the region for rehabilitation of inmates.

The government is undertaking elaborate arrangements to mark the 25th Anniversary of the achievement of independence. There are plans to make awards to people in many fields. It is not uncommon in such circumstances to grant pardons to prisoners and there can be no better way to bring closure to the revolutionary years than to give these prisoners their freedom at long last.

  Copyright 1998 THE GRENADIAN VOICE