Free Sylvia Blyden
By Abdul Suhood Komeh,
After nearly two weeks, the continued detention of politician, businesswoman and journalist Sylvia Blyden has gone past tenable. Now it’s ridiculous.
What ever crime(s) she may or may not have committed. Keeping her incarcerated for this length of time, without being found guilty by a court of law is political bullying and, a mockery of justice.
As far as is known, Sylvia Blyden is a compliant suspect who did not resist arrest. She’s got asset in the form of a successful business and possible property. She occupies considerable political and cultural standing. Meaning she can be allowed to leave detention on bail. Importantly, she can be monitored and invited as investigators determine, without the need to detain her longer than necessary. And at taxpayers’ expense.
So the backward view, that somehow, her prolonged detention and interrogation might be related to the magnitude of criminality is ludicrous. Even more so when the government has thus far, failed to show confidence in evidence in its possession to charge her. Rather than an indication of seriousness, this position exposes worrying deficiencies in evidence and intelligence gathering within our institutions; it speaks to a lack of rigour in our justice system that should concern us all.
Sylvia Blyden must be released.
If an investigation fails to produce incriminating evidence to charge a high profile suspect it has kept in custody for twelve days, it gives the impression that (a) there is no case or (b), the state is trying to cobble one to meet a desired end. This does not advance, but makes total a lack of faith in the most inchoate of processes - legal or otherwise.
It’s not as if the CID’s resources are stretched beyond meeting swift and effective duty. No. Just the size of the team dispatched to conduct Blyden’s arrest and eventual ransacking of her home undercuts any such arguments.
If initial evidence warranted an arrest, after nearly two weeks without charges being brought, a suspect must be allowed to return to their loved ones.
In the event there is evidence of culpability against her, Sylvia Blyden is no flight risk. That is even at the best of circumstances, when international aviation was fully functional. Let alone at a time of unprecedented global inactivity as a result of a pandemic. She’s too well-known a figure and can be easily tracked.
It should escape no one that the same government keeping her in captivity, shutdown its borders weeks before her arrest. This degrades any fears of her fleeing justice to a smokescreen for abuse of power and infringement of Miss Blyden’s rights.
Even the State of Emergency is too whimsical a basis for her detention at this point, since it was declared not to douse a political quarrel but to facilitate the management of a pandemic.
Just because a matter relates to a government is no reason it should be dealt with differently. And absolutely not, no government, African or otherwise, can be trusted to act as plaintiff, judge and jury. That’s undemocratic.
The government must now release Sylvia Blyden. This episode is just another truly bad imitation of the rule of law that the country could do without. It behoves all citizens, whether a supporter of government, opponent or ordinary, to decry a brazen abuse of power.
Justice is neither revenge nor cruelty. Justice is being fair and civilised. As a nation, it is way past time to give being a better society a real look.
Let Sylvia Blyden go.