LAY MAGISTRATES MEETING January 16, 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be with you this evening on the occasion of the first public forum of the Safety and Security
Committee. As a member of the committee, I have had the pleasure to sit with some very special people. These persons represent the various organizations that comprise the committee and who I know, very much believe in the core value and the importance of it.
I wanted to speak about Human Rights this evening and to make a special appeal to the Justices of the Peace who I believe can make a difference in the behavioral pattern in the communities where we live. Because as Justices of the Peace, part of our mandate is to:
“Give counsel and advice to citizens in the community. To listen to and, where possible, help persons who experience various kinds of problems and who seek the advice of a Leader in the community.”
This vital role if properly carried out, will lessen tension; enable the flow of information and provide that much needed leadership that many communities lack. If we are able to assist in this regard, we will contribute greatly in
preventing violent confrontation. As you probably know, some 80% of our murders in the Parish are domestic. If therefore, we can help by being that person who can adjudicate in difficult matters, the end result might be completely different.
ON THE QUESTION OF RIGHTS OF THE PUBLIC:
There have been two major incidents that have occurred in the Parish recently that gives me great concern. The first is where a man on charge for a violent crime and out on bail, attacked three women in three separate incidents.
This happened in the Christiana area. Each suffered wounds to their heads and face. Each woman was robbed. All
three women had to be hospitalized. The attack on the last women was so vicious that she will lose the sight
in both of her eyes!
So, the question is, why was this man let out on bail when he already had a violent history?
The second incident occurred when a taxi driver from Greenvale was let out on bail after he raped his 12-year-old Goddaughter. Undeterred, he went on to rape his own daughter who is also 12 years old!
Again, the question, who was protecting the Rights of these two little girls? Where in all of this was the safety and security of the public taken into consideration? And who is to bare the physical and emotional cost to these people?
And when incidents like these occur, are we not setting up the community for revenge? I am told that the Bail Act allows persons to go free if the Court is assured that the person will turn up for their Court date.
My question is, where was the consideration for the protection of the public? And what should we, the public do about matters like these? Should we not be involved in situations where our lives and the lives of our children are at stake? Is that not a Human Right? And what background checks are done on these men who drive public vehicles? Do the Police check them out before they are permitted to take our women and children in their vehicles? And if not, why?
For my part, I have written the Minister of Justice on the question of Bail, I have met with an RM and I have gone to Court and sat with him to get a better understanding of the Court procedures. Because each time that something like this occurs, it puts the community into a bad psychological state! Anger and revenge and fear raises it head, in which case, secondary problems arise and the Police and the community are then faced with another problem, that of keeping the peace.
Another matter that we have to be careful of is the question of minorities being targeted for hate crimes. Just a few weeks ago, a 17 year old boy, a cross dresser was murdered in Montego Bay. He was killed by a group of people at a dance who found out that while he was dressed as a woman, he really was a man. They seemed to think that because he was different from them that it would be perfectly all right for him to suffer the ultimate consequence. So they killed him. After all, who would care? His very father had thrown him out of his house! So the people stabbed him and shot him and dumped his body in the bush! That, in their minds, got rid of a nasty problem.
Little was said about his murder. It was as if this boy’s life meant nothing! It took a few people like Mark Shields, Emily Crooks and Jamaicans for Justice to persistently keep the issue alive on Twitter before any attention was given.
I am also told that this year, 2 men have been killed and 36 others have suffered violent attack because of their sexual preference. Why? What has caused us to be so violent to people who are different from us?
Jamaica is known internationally as the third “coolest country in the world” but we are also known as a country that has one of the highest murder rates in the world and the country which is the worst for our violent hatred of gay people. Our international image is going south because of our behavior. This is impacting negatively on our
International Human Rights ranking and our inability to land overseas investment. All at a time when this country is looking for every dollar that it can in investment. Are we not aware that investors look at these things before putting their money into a country like ours?
So let me say this, I have no problem with people who have a personal bias regarding homosexuality, we all have our biases, but I do have a problem with anyone publicly inciting hatred, violence or discrimination against any minority group and I frankly will not tolerate it amoung the Justices of the Peace. For you cannot be a Peace maker and a hater at the same time! WE, we the people cannot allow ANYONE to be murdered because they are different!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it was not so long ago that millions of people were enslaved in this country, in what became one of the world’s greatest atrocities! Africans were brutalized and murdered on the sugar plantations because they were different! Yes, seen as less than human! It was not so long ago that 8 million people of the Jewish faith
were put to death in the gas chambers because they were different!
It was not so long ago that a man by the name of Nelson Mandela was imprisoned when he fought to end apartheid in South Africa! He stood strong for those who were different! It was not so long ago that Martin Luther King was murdered because he fought for the Rights of black people in America! It was not so long ago that women were considered to be so inferior that we couldn’t vote! (Look at us now!)
Personally I have a great regard for the President of the United States. As a black man, he has had to face some challenges that are so tough, but he carries on with courage and distinction. President Obama has risen to great heights and continues to rise because he has become President of ALL of the people! He has shown the courage and the guts to stand up for minorities because he not only believes in the Rights of all people, he is showing by example, how all Americans should think and behave. That’s leadership!
I believe that we in Jamaica have such a shining example in him and if we try to learn from him, we will all live a much more respectful, peaceful and democratic life. Leadership is not easy. It requires that you stand up and be counted. It requires that you speak up and be ready to take the criticism! It requires that you be not afraid to stand-alone! WE, we in this room are leaders and we need to take back our country and be prepared to lead it!
Lead it one by one if necessary, for every time we keep quiet, every time we say nothing, every time we do nothing, we send a message that says, “it’s O.K.” It’s O.K. to do what you are doing. It’s O.K. to push that boy, beat that youth, terrorize those people, kill that gay person! And before you know it, the message has been released and like germs in the air and an epidemic takes place in the minds of those who didn’t need much to topple them over the edge!
They allow terrible acts to be carried out because we, the leaders, failed to stop it! And before you know it, you have a
nation full of violent people, all disregarding God’s holy law, “THOU SHALT NOT KILL”.
Dwayne Jones was doomed when his father flung him out of the house because he was different. Dwayne Jones was doomed when his father failed to stand up for him, his precious son! As his father he should have sheltered him and protected him from the storm. Poor Dwayne Jones, his life was ending from the moment that he began to show that he was different.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this country aims to become a first world country by the year 2030. We have stated that we will become the place of choice to “work, raise families and do business.” Most people believe that we achieve this by how much money we have in the Bank, or what the Gross Domestic Product is. It is not! It is how we think and how we obey God’s laws!
I thank you all for coming here this evening. I hope that I have given you some food for thought and that you will try to put some time aside to assist in this great effort to make our Parish one that we can all be proud.
God Bless you and God Bless Jamaica.