Posted by: nastylittletruths | October 12, 2009

A Question Of Confidence

I’ve always liked Reginald Dumas… (How many years ago was it when he and Diana Mahabir-Wyatt had one of the first local talk shows? Jeez, I’m getting old…) Anyway, I differ in opinion when it comes to his stance on the Privy Council – see his column in last Saturday’s Express, “A question of independence”. Now before you think otherwise, I still like Reggie, eh, we can have diverse opinions without being brutish

Now Reggie made a compelling argument about ‘holding on to the coattails of people who plainly find us a nuisance’ and quoted extensively on the opinions of Lords Phillips and Browne-Wilkinson who thinks that too  much of their time is taken up with cases from this part of the world. Now firstly, I would say that this is the opinion of only two men and if there are more reservations about us using them as our final court of appeal, then just tell us. But two grumbles in 10 years? Maybe we can be the unwanted guests a bit longer…

And whereas Reggie is correct in dismissing an irrelevant Opposition, I don’t think it is that simple to put forward a case only about self-respect or self-confidence. We all have some measure of both, but what does that have to do with ensuring the wheels of justice moves in the right direction? Remember the SDMS and the famous radio licence? The State lied to the courts here – at all levels – and the courts believed them. It took objective minds and a separation of 7,000 kms for the truth to finally come out and a judgment made without fear and reservation.

All dictators have had their supporters and democracy in our country means majority wins. Who is going to protect me when this elected majority undermines the very justice system that is meant for my protection and not theirs? The insidious threats this administration is known for – private security, private army, spy equipment, attacks on the judiciary and persons who are not ‘with them, but against them’, overhaul of a constitution to place more power in the hands of one man – is enough to make me want a godfather/godmother outside their reach – even if I have to pay in sterling.

I’ve quoted this before in one of my old posts and I’ll repeat it here – “the law resides in the hearts of the people rather than in the mouth of the king” and what else is a constitution but the ultimate law of the land? In our case out of the mouth of not a king, but a man who wants to be president… This wish for our own final court of appeal will eventually come to pass, but at the proclamation of one man, not the people…

But to the more pertinent point in my case – while everyone is worried about political influence on judges, I worry about the financial influence. Jurisdictions the world over has had a dim view of ‘poor’ people taking food off a grocery shelf or defending their pitiful properties in favour of the monied elite.

We have had our share of a desperate father getting two years for stealing a can of Milo off a grocery shelf to feed his child and victims of accidents waiting decades for insurance money, but a man who killed another outside an infamous whorehouse in PoS was told by a judge that ‘the clang of a prison door behind you was enough punishment’ and a judge who acted more like a defence lawyer cross-examining a forensic pathologist during a murder trial where a white boy killed a black boy.

And what about the learned judge who said the Jamaat’s amnesty was valid and that Emmanuel Carter wasn’t under duress? Another judgment called into question by the Law Lords of the Privy Council… Be careful what you wish for Reggie, your dream may be someone else’s nightmare.

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