The actions of a large number of the Jamaican judiciary [unelected by anyone] two days ago demonstrate that they believe they are above oversight and that they should operate by fiat.
That mindset places them above the laws and above the oversight of the Jamaican people who pay their salaries.
The Prime Minister is well within his right to ensure that whoever he chooses (as authorized by the constitution) is the best person for the job.
Judges are not kings and as such, the person who has the responsibility to select a chief justice has every right to ensure that the person chosen is qualified to do the job effectively.
The very same entities and individuals who insist that the Jamaican Judiciary must be above political oversight of any sort, do not believe that another Government entity the Jamaica Constabulary Force should enjoy the same freedoms.
In fact, they clamor for multiple layers of oversight for the Police so much so that the police has six (6) official oversight bodies and a litany of other Agencies which purport to be representative of the interest of those whose rights have been violated.
“But then, bashing the police has become Jamaica’s biggest growth industry, for which there is a ready-made audience“. – Mark Ricketts, economist, author and lecturer.
What is the reason for the bipolar position on two separate arms of government tasked with the very same outcome, just with different functions?
To get the answer to that question one has to understand the history of our country, the way Jamaicans see those who wield power and how they view themselves in that equation.
That must also be viewed in the context of how the JCF came into existence, the strained relationship the agency has had with the population over the decades, and finally who staff the department.
In many ways, Jamaica has been unable to shake off some of the most destructive vestiges of her colonial past. Deeply embedded in those vestiges is the omnipresent caste system which stubbornly exists to this day. Jamaican cops are products of the poorer caste of the Island. Jamaican Lawyers not so much. In essence, based on the trappings of being in the upper caste, even those who somehow claw their way out of abject poverty and make it through law school would rather pretend that their past never existed. Such is the way those who have acquired some degree of education see themselves and that is the way the population views them.
It’s incredible that anyone could proffer the notion that the Prime Minister does not have the authority to install someone on a temporary basis while he does due diligence to ensure that the person finally chosen is the best fit for the job.
The mere fact that Justice Sykes was installed suggests that the PM had duly informed himself of justice Syke’s bona fides and wanted to make sure as he should, having been tasked with choosing the right person under the constitution.
The idea that what the Prime Minister did is tantamount to Political interference is ridiculous when it is his duty to select a candidate, the best candidate to fill the post.
Judges are not elected by the people, it is the people’s representatives who appoint them, therefore it must be the right of the people’s representatives to ensure best practices are adhered to as the PM intended (PM party neutral).
Judges cannot be allowed to continue allowing criminals back onto the streets as soon as they are arrested, and stopping cases from proceeding without being answerable to anyone.
Last year alone, 1616 people were reported murdered, some estimates indicate those may have been modest numbers.
Several of those homicides could have been avoided if judges across the Island had done their jobs without supplanting the laws with their own personal biases and opinions.
In hundreds of cases police verifiably demonstrated that these monarchs,[sic] summarily and surreptitiously granted bail to murder suspects in a multiplicity of instances. This they do in cases where suspects are allowed out to kill over and over and over without facing a single jury to answer for their crimes.
In other instances, violent offenders who commit egregious felonies using firearms are given suspended sentences, some are admonished and discharged. On the occasions in which they bother to arrive at a custodial sentence the time given in relation to the crimes committed leaves observers aghast at the obvious senselessness of the sentences handed down.
Their behavior has severely corrupted the process and systematically destroyed the confidence of the public in the ability of the system to dispense justice in a fair and equitable way.
The end result is a dramatic increase in violent crimes and a serious uptick in assaults on the persons of our law enforcement officers.
In our parliamentary democratic system as in a republican democracy, it is the people’s representatives who appoint judges, they must be accountable to the people. This is only possible when those tasked with selecting Judges use best practices and apply due diligence when choosing members to fill vacancies on the bench.
The closing down of the courts by activist judges two days ago finally peeled back the thin veneer which gave the impression that they were anything but political practitioners operating as independent triers of fact.