Tue | Sep 27, 2022

Letter of the Day | An insatiable appetite to blame judiciary for crime rate

Published:Thursday | June 16, 2022 | 12:12 AM


Kindly permit me the opportunity to publicly and fully endorse the views expressed in your editorial of June 11, 2022, under the caption, ‘Tinkering with the Bail Act’. It provided a rational and detailed rebuff to the recent pronouncements made by the legal and constitutional affairs minister, Marlene Malahoo-Forte, to her insinuation that the judiciary has been derelict in the exercise of their discretion towards the consideration of bail in murder and gun offences.

That the judiciary is not beyond criticism is a given. Indeed, it was Lord Atkin in Ambard v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, [1936] A.C. 322 at 355, who said: “Justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed (to) suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men.”

This notwithstanding, there seems to be of late an increasing insatiable appetite from certain quarters towards blaming the judiciary for the current crime rate engulfing our country. Regard is rarely ever given to the fact that offers of bail or acquittals of accused persons before the courts are as a result of poor investigation and unreliable evidence. Precious little is given to critical and rational thinking as to the cause of our crime rate and how to deal with it. Not surprisingly, therefore, the pendulum of thought swings from one ridiculous extreme to another; wanting to blame the judges for the current state of crime to suggesting that the way to deal with it is to meet with gang members.

Have we lost all sense of how to govern? What of mandatory laws of CCTVs in public spaces in aid of crime detection? What of seeking to improve the working conditions of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and linking their promotion to meaningful performance targets? What of improving our ability to rely on scientific evidence in the prosecution of matters? Then again, perhaps these few suggestions make too much sense for any due consideration to be given to them. In the interim, fanciful arguments and political rhetoric reign supreme in the absence of strident voices from our legal fraternity against such an atmosphere.

Peter Champagnie, Q.C.