St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) July 9th : Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Travers Sinanan is lamenting what he identifies as one of the main challenges affecting the successful prosecution of criminal cases brought before the court—uncooperative witnesses. “We have witnesses who are either reluctant to come to court, witnesses who basically would come to court and suffer from selective amnesia…witnesses who would come to court and stand in the witness box and say they can’t remember anything till they are blue in the face; witnesses who change their stories and make all sorts of allegations that they were coerced, forced or threatened to give those accounts—which in truth and in fact 9 out of 10 times, in fact, 10 out of 10 times turns out not to be correct. Witnesses who adopt an apathetic attitude; they don’t want to get involved because of fear of reprisals,” explained Mr. Sinanan.
According to police, the detection rate in St. Kitts and Nevis is less than 30% percent. The international average is 33%. Mr. Sinanan explains how the challenge with witnesses is mainly due to the fear of reprisals. “One has to understand in a small society like this, people are fearful of their safety because you should do so and so and you must do so and so without having some sort of empathy for witnesses who exhibit that sort of fear,” the DPP said.
The DPP notes that despite the strength of the case, his office needs the cooperation of witnesses. Despite this challenge however, Mr. Sinanan asserts that his office will uphold the law and rigorously review their cases.