Let us talk about John Jones.
In fact, do I really wish for us to speak about John Jones, or should we direct our thoughts on the how justice is served on Montserrat for victims of Domestic Abuse, and also too, how we as a people engage with maintaining the peace and safety of Montserrat beyond talking about it.
John Jones is a murderer. That is a fact. John Jones, during March of 2012, brutally murdered a lady that was much loved by the Montserrat community at home and abroad, Miss Anolda 'Nolda' Fenton.
Anolda, as MNI wrote when this senseless act took place, "was a spirited woman...many persons who knew her well would describe her as a character that embodied life, deeply loved by many."
For this dreadful crime, John Jones was sentenced to 11 years in prison by His Lordship, Justice Thomas W.R Astaphan in the High court that sat on Montserrat at the time.
MNI Media is now of the understanding that John Jones is due to be released from Her Majesty's prison on July 4th, 2019. A mere 6 years later; whilst Anolda's family and friends are without the love and comfort of her being in their lives. MNI asks, is this justice served for Anolda's brutal murder, and for her family?
The circumstances surrounding Jones' 11 year sentence are tragic to say the least, in that Jones was charged with manslaughter and not murder. Even though Nolda was killed by Jones while she slept, after he allegedly broke into her property from which he was, at the time barred from entering - Jones received a manslaughter slap on the wrist and not a murder charge as it should have rightly been. Outrage is too easy a term to ascribe to this leniency that was afforded Jones.
Now that Jones is set for a release date in July, there is also another matter that becomes focal to this case, and that is the matter of Jones' abode once released.
MNI Media understands that Jones is set to be deported back to his native land Guyana once released. This is only but applicable and just!
But in a situation where it should have never been in question the fate of Jones, once released from Her Majesty's pleasure, MNI' s investigations into this Jones issue revealed, to our horror, that there was a possibility that Jones would have been allowed to linger in Montserrat until the 19th of July before being deported. An almost two-week window where a convicted murderer would have been walking the streets of our peaceful land.
So Jones is now set to be deported back to Guyana with the use of his own funds held in the bank, from what MNI's investigations have unveiled.
However, Jones is leaving but the issue of safety and domestic violence does not go away and end there.
Jones will live his days in Guyana having had a slap on the wrist for murder, but what of Montserrat and her overall safety?
Montserrat remains one of the safest places in the Western Hemisphere. Regularly, MNI receives reports from all over the region to do with crime and criminal activities, and one thought that continues to be superimposed over all the reports of crime across the Caribbean, is that Montserrat, thank God, is safe from these atrocities we often hear of.
Now there is a question, that was posed earlier, how does the island maintain it?
The island remains an open book in the free movement of people that is commonplace across the Eastern Caribbean. In this re-development quest, Montserrat will most certainly continue to welcome its Caribbean brothers and Sisters, and also those from further afield, but how does Montserrat ensure that it is letting in the best elements?
What are the systems of background checks for criminal records and health status that are enforced without favour across the board for new entrants?
One may be quick to state that such an activity, to be enforced, requires resources. On that, MNI agrees and will say that this is where visionary and strategic planning comes in. To protect the borders and ensure the island is letting in the best, the policy-makers also should ensure that this immigration issue is seen as a matter of priority to put the required institutions in place, with the required funding and legislative backing to see to it that Montserrat's long-term safety is assured.
Also, what of the matter of Domestic violence and the Domestic Violence Bill?
We all heard the Honourable Delmaude Ryan speaking in Parliament at the last sitting, stating that the Domestic Violence Bill has hit a stall, and she questioned the Members of Parliament for this stalling of the Bill.
MNI heard it at the time, and what own investigations have revealed is that Minister Ryan told an untruth and aimed to mislead. The Domestic Violence Bill is not stalled simply because House Members are not wanting to proceed with it, but rather Hon Ryan knows that there are key administrative procedures that she did not comply to, why the Bill has not proceeded in the House.
The Bill is very much needed to protect any future occurrences such as the unfortunate crime that befell our beloved Nolda Fenton. Thus, MNI urges Hon Ryan to speak to the administrative matters that need looking into, and fix them with haste so that the Bill can be made into law.
There is no need to cast blame Hon Ryan, you have a duty to protect women and children et al on the island from Domestic Abuse. This Bill is stalled for reasons that you know of. Kindly fix them, and let us get on with the people's business and get this Bill on the books.
Perhaps the Hon Member should consider renaming the Bill "The Anolda Fenton Women and Family Protection Bill"
It will be most fitting to the memory of Nolda.
Note; Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief of Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org