Best News & Current Affairs Blog (2011 & 2012) and Jamaican Blogger of the Year (2011) at The Jamaica Blog Awards.

Posts tagged “Justice

Guilty! : How the Kartel Trial Shamed A Nation


After deliberating for just under two hours, the 11 member jury returned its verdict. The three men and eight women found Adijah Palmer, and three of his four co-accused, guilty of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. The verdict has put to rest a legal drama that began in 2011, one which fascinated and mystified the nation, but there were more sinister undercurrents at play here. As much as my own conscience tells me justice has been done, and as much as I would rather not see any selfless heroism in a convicted murderer; I am unable to shake the feeling that in the end Vybz Kartel was able to serve as a living testament, a sacrificial lamb of sorts, for many of the realities dancehall music has explored over the years. Kartel’s arrest, trial and conviction put the very state on trial, and on nearly all counts, Jamaica was found guilty.



The Full Has Been Told : Buju Found Guilty‏

I woke to news late this afternoon that Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie had been found guilty by the Tampa, Florida jury. I braced myself for what would no doubt be a warranted out pouring of emotion from his loyal fans. However, what greeted me was nothing short of ignorance and stupidity as the said fans searched desperately for justification of the verdict.

The blame was firstly attributed to his skin colour. “A caw him black!”. When it became clear that wouldn’t stick, there were calls of “A caw him a rasta!”. This too would prove insufficient and so gears were swiftly changed, “A thru him a Jamaican!”. And when nothing would hold, there came a last desperate and under handed attempt; “A di battybwoy dem set it up!”

So crude and unspeakably plain. Unfortunate isn’t it? Sigh.

I searched desperately for some voice of reason amongst his fans and in the midst of the chaos. This was not to be. I sat mortified as elaborate conspiracy theories were given life to justify, or rather, to explain the guilty verdict. And not once, no not once, did anyone stop to think… MAYBE HE’S JUST GUILTY. I know this sounds callous, and cruel even, but there must come a time when reason trumps emotional considerations. There must come a time when common sense defeats ignorance. Yes, today must be that time, that day.

In the face of overwhelming evidence to support his guilt, people still expected a jury of 12 reasonably intelligent men and women to return a not guilty verdict on all counts. This expectation bordered on insanity. The phone calls? The supposed video of Buju tasting cocaine? As in…. which jury wouldn’t be persuaded by all that? If you ask me, he’s lucky he was only found guilty on only 3 counts. I understand the emotional outpouring and I understand the concern, but this is how the justice system works and if 12 reasonably intelligent people could unanimously agree, then I am willing to accept the verdict. No other justification or explanation rather than the fact that the evidence presented was sufficient to convince those 12 people. Case closed. Argument done.

I hope, for the sake of his fans, that the judge is lenient and shows mercy. That is perhaps a reasonable thing to form prayer circles for.. (I say this with grave reservations)…but it will comfort those who mourn. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of his, but I did appreciate some of his lyrics. Especially ‘Destiny’ and ‘The Full’ (forgive me if this isn’t the name of the song. Perhaps a loyal fan can correct me.) May “Jah” guide you Buju, where ever you are. A nation prays with and for you.

I could go on and on, but it seems the full has finally been told.

“We Want Jostise!” : Equity in Jamaica‏

Anyone who has ever watched the nightly news in Jamaica would be all too familiar with those words; words spoken across the length and breadth of this country. It has become a characteristic of the Jamaican society to see protesters armed with picket signs and placards (spelling usually way off) campaigning for rights and “jostise.” The recent shooting by a policeman of an alleged murder suspect in St. Ann has brought my mind to our sense of fairness and justice in this country.

Having been videotaped shooting the man to death, the police officer; yes, he is an officer, not a mere constable, has been charged with murder. However, residents who witnessed the policeman’s excessive use of force are asserting that the he has done nothing wrong and ought to be released. They argue that the deceased man was a trouble maker and therefore met his just fate. However, isn’t justice supposed to be about due process and fairness? What could possibly be just about being beaten and shot to death on the ground like a dog?

How many of those calling for the policeman’s release have themselves protested and called for “jostise”, when they felt the police had used excessive force? Is it that because the man is an alleged murderer then he ought to die, without his day in court? And if this is so, then why do we ever complain that justice isn’t being done when police personnel are alleged to have murdered our relatives and family members? Why not call for the release of these officers? Because surely they acted properly and professionally in executing “jungle justice”. Or is that justice in this country is selective? Only some deserve it? Some deserve their day in court and some deserve to be beaten in the streets and shot to death like animals?

We are only demanding justice when we, or those close to us, have been wronged, but apparently justice shouldn’t extend itself to this man shot to death like a dog. Critical to this whole thing is the fact that we all like to say “innocent until proven guilty”. Why wasn’t he given his day in court? A chance to prove his innocence or a chance to be found guilty? And in the policeman’s case, why shouldn’t he face a court? He acted improperly and now must face the consequences. We would demand no less for an alleged gunman. Police officers are not licensed to kill citizens as they see fit. This must be a country of laws, not one of jungle or tribal justice. Then again, if students at a tertiary institution can set upon and beat a man on mere hearsay, am I expecting too much of the average citizen? I mean, if those educated can mete out jungle justice so swiftly and recklessly, surely the this is a cultural problem we have in this country. Is jungle justice now a characteristic of the Jamaican society?

Do we really even care about justice?

Often times we sit in our comfy, cushioned realities, far removed and aloof from the suffering of our fellow citizens and it only hits us that Jamaica is losing all sense of civility when a prominent individual is victim to the lawlessness. I remember looking on as the dancehall fraternity rallied and cried out for peace and justice in Jamaica when a member of T.O.K was murdered, but what about the average man? What about the man with no name and no identity? The one who will be put in a pauper’s coffin and buried in an unmarked grave at May Pen Cemetery? Who has cried out for him?

You see, if jostice is what we truly want in this country, then it must apply for all of us. There can be no greater than, or less than. There can be no excuses or exceptions. Justice must apply across the board. The treatment that is good for one, must be good for all. And in the same way those onlookers condemned that man to die on the ground by a policeman’s bullet, I submit that the policeman should be made to stand trial for his actions.

“Mi waan jostice!”