Did T&T Police Commissioner receive bogus honorary doctorate?

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Although he was given an honorary doctorate last month Police Commissioner Gary Griffith does not want to be referred to as “doctor” after checks raised doubts over the institutions that bestowed it.

Gary Griffith receives certificates for an hororary degree

Sources within the police service’s communication department said that after the ceremony last month, Griffith ordered that the matter not be made public as he chose to distance himself from the universities, ordering his officers as well to look into the institutions that bestowed the award. The institutions are the University for Global Peace and the Academy for Universal Global Peace USA.

Senior police sources said the institutions can’t be investigated for fraud since they did not ask for money or any benefits in exchange for the awards. Police added that after the ceremony, Griffith asked that a background check be done on the organisations and after that refused to use the title bestowed on him. The senior officers added that there were many unanswered questions about the validity of the organisation that prompted Griffith’s stance.

At the award ceremony, held at Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Griffith was given the honorary degree for humanities. He was one of nine people selected by the institutions, who worked with the Rose Foundation. The other members to receive the honorary humanities doctorates were George Nicholas III, Ian Alleyne, Joan Yuille-Williams, Louis Lee Sing, Phillip Buxo, Murchison Brown, Mariano Browne and David Mohammad.

One recipient of the honorary doctorate said he only accepted the invitation because he knew of the Rose Foundation and the work that they do locally and had never heard of the other organisations before. The recipient, who did not want to be identified, said he found the whole thing to be suspicious but given who were the other awardees he felt at ease but became suspicious again after the ceremony.

The institutions also gave out doctorates in divinity to Archbishop Allison Jordan-Byer, Archbishop Dorothy Hercules, Bishop Earl Hypolite and Patriarch Stephen Julien. Seven people became chaplains while 66 others received ambassadors for peace and certificates of excellence awards.

According to their website, the University for Global Peace is “a global think tank with a primary focus of helping scholars carry out doctoral research into peace and conflict studies, therapeutic jurisprudence and to build competencies of peace activists worldwide.” The Academy for Universal Global Peace has its headquarters in New Jersey, according to their website, with research centres in over 15 countries.

Local media contacted the US embassy about the institutions asking if they were accredited and was given two websites used to verify accredited universities in the US. Both the Academy for Universal Global Peace and the University for Global Peace could not be found on those sites. Media also contacted the United Nations about the institutions since their websites claimed to be UN backed and supported. A spokesman for the UN said: “I am not aware of the University for Global Peace. United Nations University is, as I said, a UN-established body.”