Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Identification of Suspect in "Gay" Murder should reassure GLBT Community

Following a series of recent incidents involving the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), including the raiding of GLBT tourist event and the alleged assault of Haitian migrants at a club in the Southern district of Nassau the impression of a police force with little respect for the basic human rights and dignity of vulnerable communities in the Bahamas was reinforced. Thus the seeming delays and lack of progress in the investigation of the murders of famed designer Harl Taylor and College Dean Thaddeus McDonald only underscored for the GLBT community that the police in the Bahamas were not resourse to be counted upon. This impression was only strengthened when AIDS Activist Wellington Adderley and Restaurant employee Marvin Wilson were also murdered months following the Taylor and McDonald slayings.

With the release of police sketches of suspects in the Wilson murder and ultimately the naming of a Person of Interest: Troynico MacNeil with respect to the Taylor murder, speculation as to the commitment of the police force to solving these murders in particular and their commitment to serving the GBLT community to the same degree they serve the Bahamas as a whole can hopefully end. The Bahamian criminal justice system for all is anachronism still functions. It is important to note that the vast majority of all serious crimes reported to the police end in the arrest of a suspect and a charge before the courts. The danger posed by the belief that the police can not be trusted to respect the rights and dignity of GLBT persons is that these persons will not report serious crimes to the police when the occur or share information with the police that could potentially assist their investigations.

The naming of a person of interest in the Taylor murder is a significant step in demonstrating that the police force in the Bahamas can be trusted by the GLBT community. Still it is only a single step, much work remains to be done if the community is to extend it's trust. Sensitivity training for officers with respect to human rights in general and GLBT concerns in particular should be introduced. However, the community should not expect the police force to formulate and implement such training on it's own. Representatives of the GLBT community in the Bahamas should reach out to the leadership of the RBPF and together work out how such an initiative can be put in place. Other Human Rights organizations within the Bahamas should also champion the cause of further training of officers with respect to human rights and diversity.

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