Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Justice delayed, justice denied?

Published:Thursday | June 15, 2017 | 12:04 AM


I recall the news of the tragic murder of Dr Peter Vogel, University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer at his home in Mona Commons years ago. As I read the court testimony in the Gleaner recently, I could not believe this case was just starting, 10 years after the murder! I have to ask why must these cases take so long to be tried in Jamaica? How can the evidence be preserved and kept intact after such a long time, and how can witnesses be properly accounted for? Can their testimony (and memory) be relied on so long after the fact?

A lot can also happen to investigators working on cases when the case is brought before the courts a decade later. Why must these cases take so long? If it is a shortage of judges and court resources, this must be addressed as urgently. This is the reason why many cases fall apart without conviction and offenders are set free. The case with Cash Plus boss Carlos Hill, was similar: it was heard in court nine years after his arrest in 2008 and the prosecution failed to make the case against him due to lack of witnesses.

This is ridiculous and cannot be accepted as the norm. Of course, crime will prevail, if the justice system is inefficient. I urge the government as a matter of priority to address the weaknesses in the justice system. The country cannot develop (or prosper) without an efficient justice system to protect its citizens. Speedy trials are a necessity, especially in a place like Jamaica where crime is rampant. I believe murder cases should also take priority to be heard. Get on with it, sooner rather than later so that victims' families can begin the process of healing, and murderers and other convicts can face their judgement if found guilty, without any delay!

P. Chin