Mon | Jan 20, 2020

Kemar Cummings | Maroons are not above the law

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 12:26 AMKemar Cummings/ - Guest Columnist

I am writing because of my strong conviction in reaction to the story ‘Ratify our sovereignty, Maroon leader urges State’ carried in The Gleaner on January 9. I am not only incensed but even appalled that a Maroon leader should think that he and the rest of his Maroon community are somehow exempt from the rule of Jamaican law. This view is not only highly unfair and unjust but it is just (as far as I see) incorrect.

The Maroon leader, Rudolph Bond, seems to be relying on the 1738 treaty signed between the British and Maroons to end the Maroon War. He cites an occasion where he was summoned to court and he was told by a judge that the State has the power to arrest Maroons in Maroon communities. He seems to take exception to this, saying that Maroons are exempt from the law in their own communities.

But does the 1738 treaty really grant that? The second provision in the treaty does grant them land in perpetuity, but nowhere does the treaty actually grants them full political sovereignty. In fact, just as the judge implied, the treaty actually states that Maroons are still fully subject to the colonial governor and colonial Jamaican law.

LAW FOR ALL

Besides my contention that the treaty does not grant Maroon communities political sovereignty, I am just horrified that he should think that he is above the law. It is just downright unfair that someone should think that the law should not apply to them while everyone else must obey the law. The law is there for everyone and all are equal before the law.

It is not just unfair but even scary that a Maroon should think himself so special as to be exempt from the law. For a people who had cooperated with the colonial government to return escaped slaves to their slave masters, it is utterly laughable that he should talk about fighting for freedom when Maroons had taken away the freedom of others by returning escaped slaves.

I urge the Jamaican Government not to negotiate any treaty with the Maroons that would include them being exempt from the law as a condition. Everyone should be treated the same way under the law. If one person or community is going to be exempt from the law, then everyone else should be exempt from the law. Obviously, that is just ridiculous.

I am not saying that Maroons can’t have their lands and customs legally recognised, but they must also comply with the law. The law is there to protect all Jamaicans, not only some.

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