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THE LOWDOWN: Here come da judge


Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: Here come da judge

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“A breath of fresh air blowing through the corridors of the courts,” says Mr Elliott Mottley, QC, of our new Chief Justice Marston Gibson. We seriously doubt a Cat 4 hurricane could clear the fust out of them there corridors, but it might at least blow away those ridiculous bibs. I mean, what’s that all about? Do judges dribble or something?
They’re talking reform of the criminal justice system. And Mottley, who wants to help, is right on the money: “If you want to fight crime in Barbados, part of that must be the reform of criminal law.”
Our old system, designed for the 19th and 20th centuries, is outmoded and ineffective. It’s like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol.
Also pledging support are Andrew “Macaroni” Pilgrim and his Bar Associates. I know what you cynics are saying. Putting lawyers to reform the justice system is like putting mongooses to repair the hen house. Loopholes for days!
That is nonsense. These men are professionals who would love a crime-free Barbados where they could sit around all day drooling over the 2012 BMW Review – “in typical BMW fashion, the 650i’s cabin blends luxury and ultra high tech in a virtually seamless manner . . .”.
Anyhow, it’s we the public getting raped and murdered, living in fear, our property and livestocks stolen, our tourist jobs at risk as Barbados gets a bad name abroad. Rarely does a criminal risk offending a lawyer or judge.
So, if Chief Justice Marston Gibson is serious about restoring Barbados to the safe, peaceful country it once was, we, the victims, need to throw our perspective into the mix.
First off, we think the criminal justice system in Barbados sucks. Time and again we see our police with unbelievably efficient despatch catch suspected perpetrators and bring them before the courts.
Then we see trials dragged out ad nauseam, postponements, adjournments. We see criminals set free over some abstruse point of law where the judge (mind you) had erred. We see light sentences and offenders repeating crimes over and over. We feel the judicial system is letting us down big time.
Secondly, we see the justice system in Singapore deterring lawlessness. Right here in Barbados there are justice systems that work. For instance, a fellow stole some marijuana. He got a beating. And far from that crap about “violence begets violence”, he could be seen thereafter every Sunday with his Bible heading to church, a changed man. True!
Thirdly, laws should be few but general. At school we knew that “a breach of common sense is a breach of the school rules”. A similar law would cover ZR drivers endangering life, as well as others who don’t stand for national anthems.
Fourthly, we saw what one effective individual on the bench like Magistrate Perry could do to control recklessness. And his method was simple – heavy fines, no exceptions. Other judges need to come up to scratch.
Fifthly, we have seen where Jamaica and now Trinidad have gone with crime and murders. Either we bury our heads in the sand or we step up to the plate and tackle it head-on.
The drug trade has spawned a sub-culture of lawlessness. It must be stamped out. If people want certain drugs legalized, let them lobby for such. But until then there must be no exceptions.
Finally, we know that human rights activists will oppose any effective punishment. We must unsign from all such conventions.
And use the American tactic of verbal obfuscation. They wanted to detain suspects indefinitely at Guantanamo. So rather than “prisoners of war” they called them “enemy combatants” who have no rights under any legislation.
Similarly, we could simply “recycle” murderers; “remove the gearbox” from rapists; treat violent attackers to some “feline rendition”; and six months with “manual severity” would straighten out wayward youths.
Chief Justice Gibson, destiny awaits you. Act now so that future generations of grateful mothers and unmarried virgins will tell how one chief judge, Marston the Unmerciful, stood tall against callous criminality. And prevailed. What a man! What a saviour!

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