Stand Up for Justice

Equal rights and justice
Is our everlasting song.
Unity and progress
Will make our nation strong.

Stand up for your rights when you hear the bell,
Stand up for justice
Hear the freedom bell. Remember Bustamante,
He served you well –
Stand up Jamaicans – when you hear the bell
Stand up Jamaicans – when you hear the bell.
First verse lyrics and chorus of JLP Anthem
Source: JLP Website

If you’re bored, you’re boring.

And increasingly I worry that I may just be pointing out things which are obvious to EVERYONE; which bores me, and in turn leads to a fear I may be boring you.

MP James Robertson
MP James Robertson

Take for example the recent imbroglio involving MP James Robertson, Minister of State without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.

To recap really quickly, the MP was recently served with a summons for allegedly using abusive language after an episode which saw him driving from Kingston to the parish of St. Thomas to aide an injured constituent allegedly shot by police.

In his defense, the MP has stated that he only acted to thwart a partisanly motivated murder-attempt against this constituent perpetrated by the police. The MP is accusing the police of corruption and attempted murder arising from partisan political motives.

I applaud the Minister for this act of heroism. As a political observer what concerns me is how on earth the JLP will be able to proceed with the planned crime bills that give more power to the police in light of the fact that some police are alleged to have sought to victimize a person simply for being a JLP party member.

It is either one of two troublesome alternatives: Firstly that JLP parliamentarians don’t support and believe in Minister Robertson’s claim of police abuse of authority; in which case they should be calling for his expulsion from parliament and from the party. Or secondly that JLP parliamentarians believe their fellow parliamentarian but are unconcerned about the many more poor and poorly-connected people who will suffer and as a consequence of new police powers.

If Robertson is convicted of the charge that has now been laid against him by the police, is it really feasible to believe he will go serve that sentence and remain an MP? It would appear abundantly clear to me that this is not a feasible proposition. So then, can the JLP support and defend their colleague out of an arithmetic necessity while simultaneous seeking to give the Jamaica Constabulary Force more power to abuse citizens?

It is either that the police are trustworthy and deserve to be invested with new powers; or they are abusive liars and untrustworthy. That is the political calculus which the JLP is going to have to navigate. And frankly I don’t foresee them doing it successfully — but further I’m happy they cannot as I don’t support what they’re trying to achieve in this case . These new powers that are now being proposed are unconscionable — they are ill-conceived, and readily lend themselves to abuse and to state-sponsored murder.

It is amazing to me that the media in Jamaica haven’t asked that question about Robertson and the party’s current stance; I say this with the caveat that I don’t religiously follow Jamaican broadcast media.  Nor has the print-media/press in Jamaica discussed the fact that the JLP anthem is an exhortation to stand up for justice.

How logical is it to sing Stand Up for Justice and then call for persons who haven’t been convicted tof any crime to be held for months without bail?

I-and-I am not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to be one on the internet. But bail has a single central purpose, which is this  — ensure that a citizen who has been merely accused of a crime turns up to trial so that guilt/innocence can be properly assessed.

Bail is not there to punish people preemptively prior to a conviction. Thus the main criterion for denying bail to an innocent citizen (that is, a citizen who is not yet convicted of any crime) should be that the citizen is a danger to themselves and/or to others.

If the current JLP government is making the argument that some people charged with a crime must be held because they are a danger to others, including witnesses that may testify against them —  then that is a highly credible argument.

My question is one of execution: Is there a proposed standard of evidence that is a minimum standard to trigger the denial of bail and automatic detention for 60 days? Or is the word of a policeman enough to have someone held for 60 days without bail? Are Jamaicans going to do what the Bush Administration did in transferring people to Guantanamo Bay based on the word of competing tribes and discreditable accusers who were heavily motivated to lie?

I find it difficult to believe that the JLP would support Robertson and thereby implicitly accuse the cops making the charge against Robertson of dishonestly; but then count the word of a policeman as gospel when it applies to the poor and poorly-connected — and make no mistake, only the poor and poorly-connected will be the only ones to suffer as a result of these new restrictions. If the JLP makes this claim in the Robertson case then continues to push the denial of bail crime-bill, it will be a powerful reason for people to vote them out of office when given the opportunity.

Other important considerations, which I have been waiting to hear human rights groups in Jamaica call for, are these:

  • If a man is held without bail and then is subsequently found not guilty by a jury — will the government compensate him for the two months pay he would have lost as a result of the denial of bail? Or do we throw multiple children and families into a period of instability (or greater instability) based on a policeman’s lie or sloppy police-work?
  • What provisions will be made to ensure that those detained for 60 days do not suddenly and suspiciously undergo changes of conscience and confess to their crimes? In other words — what are we going to do to ensure that innocent men (that is men who have not been convicted of any crime) are not tortured into confessing to crimes by abusive jailers? Will they get regular visits from a properly incentivized state physician? Will they be allowed visits from an outside physician of their own choosing with a state subsidy to pay for it?
  • How will we investigate the “suicides” that will come as a result of detaining people merely suspected of a crime. How many of those so detained will be murdered by their jailers but end up with their murders classified as a “suicide”?

I haven’t heard these issues discussed at all in the print media nor those few times I have streamed a radio station from Jamaica. It is as if these issues do not exist — and I know why they are not being discussed.

They are not being discussed because at day’s end we are not contemplating the preemptive jailing of all suspected criminals  — just those who are neither rich nor politically-connected. So if a gun-man/murderer is poor but is in service to the “right” party or the “right” rich-man living on the hills — then that gun-man will be safe. But if we can find a poor and ill-educated youth and beat him up a little then soon enough we will have a hundred percent clearance rate for murder; mostly based on confessions. How wonderful a future to contemplate, eh? And we’re almost there.

Another reason these issues are not being discussed is because the poor and poorly-connected who will be affected are not really human beings. They are political footballs that can be kicked around for convenience until an election, when violence and terrorism will be unleashed to shepherd them into doing the will of the self-righteous, self-appointed demigods of Jamaican politics.

This is the stand for justice that is being proposed; Bustamante would be proud! Soon we will be excelling in abuse and accomplishing atrocities of which the British colonialists could only dream.
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23 thoughts on “Stand Up for Justice

  1. Interesting read addressing and explicating some very serious concerns, pertinent issues and questions regarding professionalism, confidence, ethical conduct and trustworthiness of the Jamaican police, —- the so called believeability and honesty factor or syndrome, —- human rights and the rule of law. Hopefully, these new laws or bills re the question of bail and more powers granted to the agents of the state will not result or transpire into the GUANTANAMOIZATION of marginalized Jamaicans charged with a crime. Is the spectre of GUANTANAMOIZATION of Jamaicans possible in the legal and judicial system of Jamaica, purportedly, the land OF OUT OF MANY ONE PEOPLE!? Certainly, one does not have to be a rocket system to proffer an answer regarding the aforementioned question. A cursory look/analysis at the backward, antiquated, bumbling, inefficient, corrupt, and putrescent law enforcement and judicial system speaks volume with respect to the answer, CATEGORICALLY YES!! Indeed, interesting times lie ahead with respect to the question of HUMAN RIGHTS and the rule of law in a frightened and petrified polity, as a consequence of the astronomical incidence of crime, especially, homicide.

  2. Unacceptable. It frustrates me to the point where I feel like migrating. I don’t want to have to kiss ass and make contacts for the sole purpose of having enough backing to never end up in there because someone doesn’t like me and has pull with the police. I can deal with shady cops trying to pull you over on a dark night, but state sponsored terrorism is too kind a term for holding people upon suspicion for anything over 24hrs, much less an indefinite period of time. Normally I chalk up stupid laws to good men trying to do good but failing, this is pure evil. No one is so stupid as to honestly think the positives outweigh the negatives, there is some agenda at hand here.

  3. Townecrier, the precursors for Abu-Gharib and Guantanamo are already glaringly extant in our polity. Empirical evidences of such precursors are conspicuously displayed on a constant basis, please observe the day to day —- excessively harsh, illegal, draconian, barbaric, jackboot tactics, subjective interpretation and manipulation of the law accompanied by both verbal and physical abuses —- that/which are meted out by the Jamaican gendarmes vis-a-vis the marginalized mass publics and the materially dispossessed of Jamaica under the colour of law. Surely, in a polity such as ours, already extremely notorious and reputable for denying civil and human rights to its marginalized citizenry, and with increased powers being granted to the agents of the state, the increased concerns, anxieties, and apprehensions in certain quarters of the society are well founded, based on sound judgement, reasoning, evidence and historical antecedents. Indeed, the withering away of HUMAN RIGHTS as we know it in Jamaica is extremely possible under this new proposed legal and judicial formula. Jamaicans need to be more circumspect and intellectually conscious of the potential —- both positive and negative —- consequences and also the unintended consequences of any new legal formulation, supposedly, designed with the objective of abating the astronomically high incidences of crime. Specifically, as they relate to the marginalized and materially dispossessed losing their already limited rights vis-a-vis an awesome WOLFISH AND PREDATORY STATE, before it is TOO LATE. Nuff respect!!

  4. Diatribalist, I thought politicians were/are always giving/handing out guns to their area leaders, goons and thugs as opposed to having them stolen from their households or off their persons.

    I man a wonda which two membas of the so called political elite were disarmed via theft !! Based on the information in the caricatures, mi tink mi know whu is one a di two. LOL!

  5. Sorry to hear about your computer troubles!! Yes, the Gleaner Online edition is generally late, especially, this morning. It is still not up and it is almost 6.30 A.M.

  6. Thank you for the lyrics to that song — for that’s all they have become: mere lyrics. Hollow. I’d like some of the folks who keep harping on “Jamaica land we love” to tell me at what point they will have had enough, and what’s the game plan. How does the “love” translate into action? What does it mean to “stand up for justice”?

    Things cannot continue to drift like this.

  7. Apparently, the tipping point, the treshold, the boiling point or the critical mass required, or needed for action/change has not been reached, or realized by certain elements within the polity. The goal posts are constantly being moved with respect to acceptability, tolerability, adaptability and just about any standards are foisted on such publics, irrespective of how negative, forlorn and wretched such standards are re the human condition. Interestingly, the pressures of the global economic and financial meltdown and its concomitant domestic consequences of intense marginalization could ,or, may unleash a fury, or turbulence, the likes of which we —- Jamaica —-have not seen, or witnessed recently. And, which may be unmanageable in terms of its fallout and consequences, because, in essence, the goal posts can only be moveable for so long and so many times. Jamaicans, be aware of the coming fury!!

  8. @ Townecrier: I started to read the post at the link on the day you posted it and then, due to the nature of the graphic violence, had to stop until today when I could complete it.

    It is shameful to me personally to see the testimony, which I find to be consistent with previous accounts of torture.

    I would strongly have preferred to disagree with you that this is how the preventative detention in Jamaica will look. Unfortunately experience has shown that things in Jamaica often deteriorate to exactly this kind of inhuman (and inhumane) level.

    I have stayed away from publishing this comment before but to hell with it. A few weeks ago I posted a video captured by a US Army helmet cam. And as a critical thinker when I was saddened by the death of the American soldier my mind asked me a hard question: Am I as concerned for the innocent Iraqis shelled and mortared as “collateral damage”?
    Why be sad when American mistakes kill Americans, if I am not sad when American mistakes kill Iraqis. God help us all.

  9. Glad I found this blog. Whoever said Jamaicans wait until what ails the nation becomes untreatable before they take remedial measures, is correct. The social consciousness is one of the lowest in the world and the national conscience has been seared with a hot iron. Why can’t they understand that denying human rights to any group means a denial of your own rights later?

    As townecrier said, it makes one feel like migrating. But will there be anyone left to fight injustice and stand up for what is righteous? Perhaps there are no more redemption songs left for this place, for it has lost its soul.

  10. It seems injustice and corruption is synonymous with policing in Jamaica. Crimes will continue to increase until we can identify and prosecute the ones in the said police force who are perpetrating crime. We need a clean force to clean an ailing society, and one that will preserve the rights of civilians instead of stripping people of their rights in the name of crime fighting.

  11. Diatribalist, I do agree with you regarding commendation for Mr. Mark Wignall, for constantly keeping the spotlight/glare on Ms. Jahnaeel Goldbourne’s disappearance cum murder from her driveway in Harbour View. This is an extremely heinous and abhorrent case involving police officers —- agents of the state —- as principals. Consequently, the entire Jamaica, should be looking extremely close at this case when it goes to court, with the expectation that justice will be fairly served and executed. To legally invoke one of Bob Marley’s celebrated exhortation re this case, ” whoever the cap fits, let them wear it.” Nuff respect!

  12. This governement is ultimately doomed. Economic collapse is bad enough but striking at a nation’s cultural product in this day and age..? deathwish

  13. Yes, indeed, what is currently transpiring and unfolding in Guadeloupe, in terms of the intense and exacerbated economic conditions, resulting in protests, violence and death does not augur or portend well for Jamaica. As indicated in an earlier comment, THE COMING FURY , with respect to polities like Jamaica is inevitable, because, in actuality, they are unable to stanch the exogenous and endogenous social, economic, and political pressures emanating from the global economic and financial meltdown due to the fragility of their political economies. Consequently, the critical and essential question for Jamaica is, HOW CAN WE AS A POLITY MANAGE AND CONTAIN SUCH A FURY ?

    A caveat with respect to this global economic and financial meltdown–depression!! Jamaicans, please note, any recovery will not be a V-shaped recovery, where the lefthand downward slope of the V indicates and suggests a downturn and the right hand upward slope implies an immediate and sharp recovery. Interestingly, and conversely, it will be a U shaped recovery, with a considerable amount of protracted dragging and slow growth at the bottom of the U, before any movement on the right upward slope of the U, in terms of a possible recovery. So, Jamaicans, please be ready, and get creative with respect to transcending this economic tsunami !!!

  14. BWOY, Antigua is the ground zero/epicentre for Sir Allen Stanford’s meltdown. The lines at the Bank of Antigua are inordinately long. Is Stanford a baby Madoff ? By the way, where is Stanford ?

  15. I have seen the controversial cartoon published by the New York Post re Obama being a chimp. Indeed, this is definitely unadulterated racism on the part of the Post, irrespective of their attempts at spinning and rationalization to the contrary.

    Are there lessons that/which can be learned/gleaned by CLOVIS and the wider Jamaican public and society as to the comprehension and interpretation of caricatures of this nature, specifically, in light of the fact that Clovis has utilized chimps previously re sundry political animals —- Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for example? Most definitely, there are indeed lessons!! Hopefully, the New York Post’s caricature will be viewed by Clovis and elements of the larger Jamaican community/society. Again, unadulterated racism on the part of the POST.

  16. WHO IS REALLY RUNNING JAMAICA? Is it the Governor of the Bank of Jamaica Mr. Derrick Lattibeaudiere, or Prime Minister Mr. Bruce Golding and his Cabinet re the controversy of high versus low interest rates? Undoubtedly, Mr. Lattibeaudiere seems to be in charge of the economy, specifically, with respect to his obdurate and implacable position regarding excessively high interest rates which —- supposedly —- is in contravention to the government’s position a la the Minister of Finance, Mr. Audley Shaw!! What is really happening!!? The cacophony of noise coming from both the government and the Central Bank Governor is eroding and undermining confidence within the general economy, on a daily basis. WILL THE REAL GOVERNMENT STAND UP AND TAKE CHARGE !!! Damn it !!

  17. Diatribalist, with respect to the Spaniards, it is quite possible that you could see a COLONIALISM in REVERSE, providing our working class can learn the language. And of course, for whichever government another source of remittance!! LOL!!

  18. @ Esteban: Spain racist bad so mi nuh know how dat woulda work out. They can barely stand the Roma people from Romania (who would probably be worshiped in Jamaica for their white skin) and the Spanish speaking people from Latin America. Hence the Spaniards may not be able to stomach Jamaicans.

  19. The alleged treatment meted out to the Assistant Business Editor of the JAMAICA OBSERVER by two members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) can be considered extremely abusive, abhorrent, despicable and totally unprincipled. Hopefully, the JCF will conduct a professional hearing or inquiry on this matter/incident, or—-code of conduct of the two officers involved —- and let the proverbial chips fall where they may. And, if these two officers are found in violation of the expectations, principles, rules, regulations and code of conduct of the JCF, the established disciplinary or punitive requirements for such flagrant breach(es) of the behavioural code must be exercised/enforced accordingly and appropriately. Like the average Jamaican citizen, the police are not above the law. And this is one of the reason why the level of disquietude has increased in certain quarters of the society regarding granting the agents of the state more power. Because, a considerable number of police officers exhibit a certain proclivity and predisposition to be abusive, with respect to the question and issue of power. Hence, sundry laws are subjectively, cavalierly and capriciously exercised vis-a-vis the citizenry, especially, when it entails the black masses and the marginalized re their civil and human rights.

  20. Like its sister island Guadeloupe, which experienced a considerable amount of unrest and violence during the past month, Martinique is now experiencing same as the economic condition exacerbates.The germs of social upheaval are now manifesting themselves in the Caribbean.Is Jamaica ready for such turbulence?

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