Brace for vigilantism if we don't fix the justice system
"Justice delayed is justice denied". It is well known that the matter of jury selection has been the underlying factor for the postponement of trials. Recent statistics show that there is a backlog of approximately 588 cases in the system. Three hundred and forty of these cases are for murder, some of which include multiple accused persons, requiring a large pool of jurors. Not only is there a difficulty to find willing people to serve, but for some strange reason there seems to be a virus that immediately infects the prospective jurors when they are served: a doctor's certificate.
Let me express my condolence to the bereaved families in Zion district, Trelawny. The perpetrator must be brought to justice swiftly and feel the full wrath of the law. However, what happened to a bystander was also just as frightening. Why would a community murder a stepfather who did not participate in the alleged criminal act? It is frightening to think that in our anger and anguish we can go about and be our own judge, juror and executioner.
Allow me to remind our readers of a short and simple definition of murder, "the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another". Vigilantism will flourish in communities that have lost confidence in the established justice system. The rule of law is fundamental to maintaining order; it is based on standards and critical procedures to which all must adhere - citizens, mob groups, vigilantes, and even the government. The Ministry of Justice is mandated to ensure that Jamaica is a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system to all; to promote respect for rights, freedom, rule of law and our constitution.
I call on our minister to examine the justice system strategic report which was prepared recently by the Strategic Planning, Policy Research and Evaluation Division in 2011. Urgent attention should be given to two core priorities: Strengthening of public trust/confidence and improved access to justice. Ministers, legislators, courts, luminaries, leaders of our nation, unless we invest the time and money needed to fix the justice system, we must brace ourselves for the intrusions of vigilantism.