Gordon Robinson | Peter Punter? Or Peter Bunter?
Fitz Jackson, relying on alarmingly increasing murder rates in non-ZOSO, non-state of emergency (SOE) areas, called for a comprehensive, long-term islandwide crime plan and retreated to an irresistibly political exclamation, "Jamaican lives matter!"
Really, Fitz? Surely you understand that actions speak louder than words?
"Action (Not a bag a mout')
Suhweet (Loving make de gyal dem
His sound bite-seeking hyperbole was inconsistent with the actions of former People's National Party (PNP) national security minister Peter Bunting when he signed three immunity certificates for three Jamaica Defence Force members regarding a specific incident.
Mark you, politics is "bag a mout''. On June 19, 2016, Peter Bunting commented on the 2010 SOE at a PNP divisional conference:
"We must never again allow that to happen in this country. And we are going to be vigilant to ensure that it never happens again."
Apparently, just four months earlier and ONLY THREE DAYS before a general election, he wasn't quite so vigilant. He signed immunity certificates as follows:
"I hereby certify that the actions of [named soldier] on May 27, 2010, between the hours of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. at 18 Kirkland Close, Red Hills, St Andrew, which may have contributed to, or caused, the death of Keith Clarke, were done in good faith ... ."
In recent media interviews, Bunting explained that he was only certifying that soldiers acted pursuant to SOE powers and insisted that the "good faith" issue was still up to the courts. But that's not immediately apparent. He specifically certified (four years after indictment) that the soldiers acted "in good faith". So, based on Bunting's media statements, these certificates can only be attempts to influence a court on that issue. Whether the attempts were intentionally, negligently, or innocently facilitated is left to be seen. None cast Peter Bunting in a good light.
"You think you are so fine ...
[Big chat nuh work, gyal; man watch
Stop playin' with my mind ...
['ooman nuh inna joke when she well
waan de wine]
Is it possible that Bunting takes us for fools or believes that he's the brightest person in Jamaica? How else to explain his casual contradiction of his own certificates? He now says he's not responsible for the requests' timing. But he's definitely responsible for the timing of the signatures. What was so urgent SIX YEARS LATER that couldn't await the election outcome?
WHAT MAKES BUNTING QUALIFIED?
What could possibly make Bunting believe he was qualified to certify that named individuals acted in "good faith" during an operation in which he wasn't even marginally involved? Did he sign without reading? He says he took legal advice. From whom? Did he ask Cabinet? Were the attorney general's chambers consulted? If not, why not?
It's ironic that Terror Fabulous and Nadine Sutherland's monster hit, Action, was captured by the Jamaica Labour Party for 1993's general election. Twenty-five years later, the PNP still seems addicted to "bag a mout'". Peter Bunting to PNP divisional conference (June 2016) on 2010's Tivoli invasion/SOE:
"What it tells you is when the security forces went in, they came under sustained and intense gunfire ... . It's important ... for the commission of enquiry to have taken place and not just for the historical record. But there are also findings that will require administrative, disciplinary actions and criminal actions and investigations are taking place ... ."
But four months before opening the "bag a mout'", Bunting signed documents now being used to try to prevent or frustrate those "actions". A question for Bunting: When security forces entered Keith Clarke's home, did they come "under sustained and intense gunfire"? If not, WHY DID YOU SIGN THOSE CERTIFICATES?
What can I say about Peter Bunting? His name should be Peter Punter (he's out of chances to advance any leadership claims and must now punt to other PNP hopefuls), or Peter Bunter (for a fat, fictional British public schoolboy addicted to "not me, sir" even before he's accused of mischief).
One question for Fitz: Did Keith Clarke's life matter?
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.