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LETTER OF THE DAY - Do not use Deane as ganja reform bait

Published:Tuesday | August 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The brutal and fatal beating of Mario Deane while in police custody was a horrific incident. A thorough investigation must be speedily completed for justice to be done and seen to be done.

The reported comments of Justice Minister Mark Golding, National Security Minister Peter Bunting, and chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Senator Robert Montague, however, must raise concern. They have cited this tragic event as a valid reason to revise ganja laws, in particular, to decriminalise the smoking and possession of small quantities of ganja.

On what basis is there a linkage between these two issues?

Are the ministers suggesting that if Mario were charged with a higher offence such as cultivating, dealing and exporting ganja, his beating would be justified?

Is Chairman Montague proposing that a government is caring when it responds quickly to 'freeing up the weed' for 'poor people'?

Are they proposing that the death of a person in police custody must result in the repeal of the offence for which he was brought in?

What happened to that young man is inexcusable, whether he was arrested for possession of a spliff, stealing 100 goats, or murder. A government that cares and values its citizens must ensure fairness in how each citizen is treated in police custody, regardless of economic class.

The atrocious actions that led to the death of Mario Deane are to be condemned as abhorrent to our justice system, a threat to due process for all citizens, and downright wicked and unjust.

Capitalising on this killing in order to push a particular agenda distracts from Mario's death and perpetuates the exploitation of 'poor people' for political gain.

PHILIPPA DAVIES

pdaviesletters@gmail.com

Kingston 6