News out of Kingston Jamaica is that former education Minister Ruel Reid, former president of the Caribbean Maritime University Fritz Pinnock, and a JLP parish Councillor have been taken into custody by local police early Wednesday morning.
Reid and Pinnock have reportedly been under police investigations for months. (According to the Jamaica Gleaner) The months-long probe involves the Major Organised Crime Agency (MOCA) and the Financial Investigation Division (FID). Reid resigned on March 20 amid the corruption allegations and yesterday, Pinnock was sent on special leave with immediate effect pending the outcome of the probe. Law enforcement officers swooped down on Reid’s St Andrew house at 5 o’clock this morning, the same time they arrived at Pinnock’s Hellshire home in Portmore, St Catherine in unmarked vehicles. MOCA detectives are also at the St Ann home of Jamaica Labour Party Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence.
Already the partisans are all over social media crowing on the one hand and lamenting on the other. Those opposed to the JLP are exuberant, those supportive of the party are incredulous that members of their party could be arrested by the police.
At this time we will not comment on the specificity of the case because we have not seen the indictment.
Sufficing to say, however, whether these accused are innocent or guilty, this is a good day for the rule of law.
Jamaicans are not used to seeing police officers raiding homes and arresting politicians, regardless of how low on the food chain they fall.
Simply put, the high command of the JCF has been so compromised through political-affiliations, fealty, and cowardice, that the prospect of the JCF conducting serious investigations against people with power has been zero.
Despite the trillions of dollars siphoned from the Jamaican people, the Island’s Teflon politicians have all avoided investigation and prosecution, with the exception of two.
(1) J.A.G Smith of the JLP spent time in prison for fraud and (2) Kern Spencer of the PNP who was indicted but not convicted because a sitting Magistrate (Judith Pusey) used her position to stymie the possibility of Spencer being held to account for the crimes alleged against him.
This writer makes no statement of guilt or innocence regarding the accused. In fact, the historical incompetence and lack of case preparation for which the JCF is infamous, is enough to inspire caution.
Nevertheless, (innocent or guilty), the arrest of these accused, sends the right message to those who believe that their positions of power insulate them from the reaches of the law when they decide to transgress our laws.
This should not be a gleeful moment, neither should it be a sad moment.
Supporters of both political parties should see this moment as a watershed moment in the history of our fledgling democratic nation.
It should say to each and every Jamaican,” the laws apply to everyone, regardless of their station”.
For the governing JLP, it is an opportunity to say “we don’t want criminals in our party” and for the PNP in opposition, it is an opportunity to take heed that criminal misappropriation of public resources will not be tolerated.
Regardless of the outcome of this case, today is a good day for the rule of law, and for law-abiding Jamaicans, regardless of their politics.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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