A spectre is haunting Jamaica – the spectre of injustice.
How else can one describe the series of recent court decisions where unjust sentences have been handed down and bail given in very questionable circumstances!
The case of the rapist who went through all the processes and was found guilty by a jury of his peers and was only handed a sentence of 12 years is one that has evoked the vitriol and bitterness of society.
The circumstances of the case, as carried in the media, involved a young girl who was brutally raped, then placed in a grave to die. The victim, a young girl, armed with the strong will to live, clawed her way out of her grave and was able to save her life. Then we have a judge who, for reasons known or unknown, taking the decision that 12 years was sufficient payback for such heinous, premeditated crimes. This is an injustice! Praises are accorded to the director of public prosecutions and the police for pursuing this case and for, according to news reports, presenting an airtight submission for the courts.
What is even more pathetic is the response from our human-rights watchdog organisations. Thus far, Jamaicans for Justice, which in the past has sought judicial reviews on decisions it believes to be unjust, has not said a word. JFJ cannot claim it does not rant against the decisions of the courts. It has done so many times in the past.
What is the difference now? Is it that JFJ is only concerned about human rights for some, those it represents, or is it human rights for all? Maybe the international donor agencies which support the work of JFJ and other such entities are only concerned about the human rights of persons they select. Who speaks on behalf of the victims?
The minister of justice seems to be taking every initiative to make the prison life of convicts easier. I have never heard Delroy Chuck, since his elevation to justice minister, speak about the horror victims of crime have to endure. It is sad, it is wretched, but who speaks on behalf of this girl who suffered, is still suffering and who will continue to suffer? Where is her justice? Certainly, the decision of the judge is a statement that justice within the hallowed halls of our courts is but a fabled myth.
Not for a second is this writer saying the brutalisation of citizens by agents of the state should be condoned. Justice and human rights are must be applied to all. Our judges are failing us. Who speaks for the victims? Not Carolyn Gomes, not Yvonne McCalla-Sobers.
It seems supporting the rights of homosexuals is of more importance now than the rights of the young girl who was raped. Or, maybe international donors are more likely to provide funds to organisations which support the repeal of our buggery laws than giving support for the victims of rape. By the way, our buggery laws are antiquated and should be repealed.
The families of Khajeel Mais, the young man who was brutally murdered in a taxi and a man who was shot and killed in Manchester recently, must be in shock and fear following the decisions of two different judges to grant bail to the persons charged with the murder of these individuals. In the case of the former, the person charged has even refused to hand over his licensed firearm to the authorities. .
Remember Tesha Miller? This individual was known for his leadership role in the Clansman gang in Spanish Town. He was charged at least four times, for murder, yet almost every time he faced the courts he received bail. There is also a recent case where a man was granted bail and the next day he went home and murdered his father.
These judges, who are supposed to be the great levellers in our system of justice, are leading us on a rather precipitous path.
Let us, therefore, remember the victims of crime. Let us speak for all injustice and let us join the movement for human rights for ALL.