Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Justice system is outdated in Jamaica

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2022 | 12:14 AM


When the US government determines that a person poses a threat to them, they are not bound by the conventional idea of ‘justice’. They, on the basis of “intelligence”, send drones 10,000 miles to bomb the target – perhaps they kill that person, but certainly innocent people are killed too. This is no conventional judicial process.

Here, gunmen terrorise citizens relentlessly before they can be brought into a justice system with an outcome so weighted in their favour as to render it impotent. That we expend the level of resources – time, money, effort – to attempt to convict gang members, only for most of them to be released on some technicality, is unacceptable. Why do we consider that “justice”? Is that justice for their victims or the people whose lives are dictated by fear, or for their future victims? It is not even justice for them, since justice assumes one gets what one deserves.

I can’t help but think it is judgment from the same US government that in part ties our hand behind our collective backs as we craft our own ‘justice’. Politicians seem to be afraid to take a brutally hard stance on crime fighting, lest their visas be yanked.

Not only do we need to ignore the hypocrites to the north who hold others to a standard while they don’t hold themselves to any. We need also to ignore the verandah dwellers of upper St Andrew, who are vocal when our armed forces defend themselves, and silent when gangs rain violence on innocents.

A person who has made it their life’s work to kill other people as part of a systematic and organised criminal endeavour should not have the same rights as everybody else, they forfeit those rights. That is an idea of justice we have evolved past.

We should develop legislation for a designation of ‘public enemy’. Such designation would then be publicised with a directive that the person turn himself in and be subject to the courts. If the person chooses not to turn himself in, a trial in absentia should be conducted and, during that time, that person should be considered a public enemy at large, with police empowered to shoot at sight.

Justice doesn’t have to mean everyone is subject to the same process. In fact, that may be the opposite, since not everyone’s actions have the same impact. Justice means that the process is appropriate and effective to address the alleged offences, and that everyone has an opportunity to be heard. It does not have to be the same opportunity or the same process for all.