Bain fell on his own sword
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Having been following the discussions on the decision by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to terminate the contract of Professor Brendan Bain, it would appear that a central element has been lost in the heat of debate.
From the explanations given by both Professor E. Nigel Harris and Professor Peter Figueroa, the question has never been about the merit, or lack thereof, of the evidence provided by Professor Bain, but rather a fundamental element of principle has forced this position on both the UWI and Professor Bain.
The principle is that he agreed, upon request from an interested party in a case to bolster its position, to provide expert testimony in support of retention of a law that he, as part of the PANCAP machinery, has been committed to removing, given it was identified as a barrier to scaling up the HIV response to MSM.
Since he was contracted to implement a project for PANCAP/CARICOM, which had an objective aimed at removing stigma, one of whose activities hinged on working to remove punitive laws. To offer testimony in favour of retaining the law created a conflict that would require his separation.
Once he had made the decision to offer the testimony, not at the request of the courts but from a group desiring a specific outcome in the case, he compromised his position. That is the conflict - nothing else.
This is akin to a public servant or minister publicly expressing a contrary position to government-stated policy direction and still expecting to maintain his position in the service. Any student of public-sector management would agree that would be an untenable situation.
ANDREA CHINSEE (JP)