Analysts debate moral accountability on the part of politicians

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Two regional political analysts are debating the question:  Should politicians recuse themselves from their offices when accused of sexual misconduct? This examination comes in the wake of a recent allegation of sexual assault by a Member of Parliament and a subsequent lawsuit.
 “Where we are supposed to be representing people and the morality of the land,” said political analyst Damion Greaves,“ the allegations are against the office of the minister.”
Greaves said that when accused of sexual misconduct, a politician should step aside from his or her office and allow the issue to be investigated. Due to the current political culture in the Caribbean, he said, this does not happen.
Peter Wickham, another political analyst, said that the small size of Caribbean islands encourages confusion, which leads to moral judgment by the public.
Wickham said that if a rule was to be put in place, which requires politicians to step aside every time an allegation is made against them, the rule is subject to abuse.
 “It will become a convenient route that you use to have anybody removed,” Wickham said.
Because no charges were made within three months after reporting the crime to the police, the young woman and her family decided to file a civil case in the High Court.
Wickham said that it is unfortunate there is a lack of confidence in the law enforcement system, forcing the family to pursue relief through a civil suit. Referring to the lawsuit, he said that this may distract from the criminal basis of the allegations.
 “The remedies are very clear in a criminal case. You can imprison someone. Remove them from being a public threat. A civil sanction cannot get anyone locked up. It offers money,” Wickham said. “It will be challenging to have a civil matter concluded where you don’t have a criminal judgement on whether something happened or not. It is taking attention from what ought to be the main focus, which is the criminal matter. Why is it not being pursued and every effort to have the matter investigated?”

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