The publication of Provisional Charges: The Untold Human Stories received an overwhelming welcome. In two days, the book shops had run out and were asking for more. We had to have a second print and a third one in two weeks. Today, there are still no copies on the market.
The two biggest book shops qualified it as a Best Seller – a term I take with a lot of humility considering the relatively small numbers involved in books produced locally. Also, the book required little imagination from me as I merely related the stories told to me by victims of the provisional charges. What is more rewarding perhaps is the great debate the book triggered on all possible fora: on social media, at the level of the Bar Council, by the Middle Temple and in the press.
The reaction was one of shock. Readers were horrified by the fact that ordinary citizens who had never had any brushes with the law could have the police land at their place, raid their homes and have them dragged to detention centres in police cars, subject them to a degrading treatment such as strip search and keep them in custody without any shred of evidence that they have done anything wrong.
Discussion about provisional charges was quite fruitful as questions followed in parliament and debates were organised by legal associations. Mention was made of the book in the newsletter of the Bar Council and in the National Assembly debates, which means that no one was indifferent to the issue.
I also say, with a great deal of humility and without making a direct link with the publication of the book, that the systematic hounding of those perceived to be associated with the previous regime subsided to a large extent. Other circumstances may certainly have helped but if the reaction to the book played even a tiny part, I would like to dedicate that small victory to the victims who accepted to collaborate.
An update of the events
The book was, on the other hand, criticised for focusing on high-profile cases, leaving out the hundreds of suspects who did not necessarily make the headlines. In my defence, I am aware that provisional charges are used on a daily basis on dozens of suspects.
While I do not condone that – far from it – I felt that the cases I dealt with were particularly revolting as there was not even any suspicion. They were blatant acts of a political vendetta gone haywire. As it happens, of all the cases I exposed in the book, not a single conviction was obtained by the police!
This new edition is meant to give an update of the events since then. The government has lost its 2/3 majority since and Former Minister of Good Governance Roshi Bhadain, a very important cog in the wheel of what was then called the KGB, has also resigned. Most of the victims have had their day in court since and this will be related in the book. I hope you will find in the new edition enough new elements to make your rea- ding it worth your while.
Note : The new edition of Provisional Charges: The Untold Human Stories is available in major bookshops and at La Sentinelle, Riche-Terre. Contact number: 206 8250
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