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Bar association renews concerns after judge orders social media blackout in X6 murder case

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 10:04 PM
McGregor: The constitutional right to freedom of expression, and the right to criticise our public institutions, belong to us all as citizens in this democratic society.

The Jamaican Bar Association is renewing what it calls longstanding concerns about the deficiencies in the justice system and the responsible exercise of freedom of expression.

The concerns coincide with this week’s ruling by high court judge Lloyd Hibbert for a social media blackout in the so called X6 murder case.

The judge made the ruling after Deborah Martin, the lawyer for accused killer Patrick Powell complained that a series of social media comments was making out her client to be guilty.

READ: Judge orders removal of social media content in X6 murder case


IN PHOTO: Deborah Martin

This afternoon, the bar association would not comment on the development in court, saying it does not have all the facts.

However, the association says there is every reason for accused persons, particularly those not on bail, as well as the victims’ families, to be aggrieved by the delays that ravage the delivery of justice.

"The constitutional right to freedom of expression, and the right to criticise our public institutions, belong to us all as citizens in this democratic society," said association president Sherry Ann McGregor.

The association further says the fundamental right to freedom of speech can only be curtailed to the extent that it prejudices the rights and freedoms of others.

"Although we believe that the public and victims’ families have the right to speak out about the most unfortunate delays they experience, we also urge them to be respectful in their protests and interviews and to refrain from making accusations of corruption by public officials in the absence of reliable evidence," McGregor further said.

She said the wheels of justice often move slowly for a variety of reasons noting that the slow pace of civil and criminal cases has been discussed at length in all forms of media and by numerous stakeholders, including the Association. 

"Discussing and finding solutions to these important issues should always be encouraged, not stifled, without playing the blame game," she insisted.

McGregor has again called for the urgent implementation of several recommendations made in 2007 by the Professor Barry Chevannes-chaired Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force.

The Bar says it has also proposed a shortlist of 12 goals to the ministers of justice and finance in December 2014, including increasing the number of judges and support staff and greater reliance and use of available technology.