Thu | Dec 3, 2020

Letter of the Day | Beware of conviction by allegation

Published:Thursday | August 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM


It is very easy to cast aspersion on others, but man's selfish desire that has caused pain and horror for centuries, never always wishes for himself what he advocates for others.

The legal system is complex, and many times the guilty go free, not for lack of guilt, but for faulty evidence, sloppy work done by police investigators, witnesses losing interest because of lengthy trials, and, distressingly, the appearance of money and fear being used to influence the system.

Today, there is a lot of noise justifying the barring of Shaneke Williams from being a contestant in the Miss Jamaica World (MJW) beauty pageant. The organisers seemed to have bowed to popular buffoonery, exhibited by jungle mentality that has no appreciation for the rule of law.

All those who wish to see this woman being excluded from anything worthwhile in Jamaica, on the basis that she was involved in a criminal case, based on allegations made against her, for which there was no trial, nor conviction, should remember that what they advocate for other persons on this occasion might be the norm for everybody else in time to come.

A few years ago, allegations were made against a number of adult males that they had sexual relations with a minor. The accused persons were arrested, along with family members of the female.

One member of the family who was 17 years old at the time when the child was said to be having the affair was also taken into custody and before the court. After sometime, the trial judge dismissed the case.




Time passed, and the then 17-year-old became an adult. She tried to join the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and during the recruitment process, she disclosed that years earlier, she was arrested by the police, and explained the circumstances surrounding the case. She was told bluntly that "once you allow yourself to be arrested, you can't be a member of the JCF".

I took up the matter, and the police commissioner and public defender were written to, but it was not given urgent attention, and the young woman lost interest, and moved to another career. Was justice served in this matter, and do we understand the implications of conviction by allegations?