Bain warned of likely implications of participating in Belizean case

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 15, 2015

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PROFESSOR Brendan Bain yesterday admitted that four human rights advocates had warned him about the likely implications of him giving his expert witness in a Belizean court.

Under cross-examination from Queen's Counsel Hugh Small yesterday, Prof Bain recalled that he was approached by Dr Ernest Massiah, director of UNAIDS for the Caribbean; Ian McKnight, former executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition; Dr John Walters; and Dr Peter Figueroa, a well-known epidemiologist and HIV/AIDS researcher.

The doctor admitted that Dr Massiah was the fourth person that had cautioned him about the likely consequence of the report that he was to tender in Belize. Prof Bain said that Dr Massiah told him that it would be dangerous for him to participate in the case.

The claimant also admitted that Dr McKnight had informed him that if he took that position he would not refer anymore homosexual clients to him as an HIV/AIDS specialist.

According to Prof Bain, while the men raised their concerns, they did not at the time know the position that he was going to take.

Professor Bain was asked by church groups in Belize to give a report in the case of Caleb Orozco who was challenging that country's buggery law.

Prof Bain, during his cross-examination, also alleged that the University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor Nigel Harris had vilified him during an interview in the media.

"When he drew analogy to persons who are racist, that really affected me," Prof Bain explained.

"And he called you a racist?" Small asked.

"No," Dr Bain replied.

But Prof Bain also admitted that Prof Harris had paid tribute to his work in the same interview and in press releases that were sent out.

But he alleged that he was defamed in a statement that the university sent out regarding his termination. However, when the release was read line by line, he indicated that there was nothing defamatory in the sentences. The claimant later concluded that defamation was in the tone of the release.

He also testified that CHART was not mandated to pursue human rights issues and that, initially, he was not aware that UWI was involved in human right issues.

"I only became aware that UWI was pursuing human rights in the last two to three years, " he said.

When asked to describe his understanding of human rights, Prof Bain responded, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," adding that he "has since learnt that it has other dimensions".

Professor Bain is suing the UWI for breach of contract, breach of constitutional rights, and defamation over the university's decision to terminate his contract as director of CHART.

The UWI fired the noted health professional last May after alleging that his constituents had lost confidence in him following Bain's participation in the Belizean matter.

The case is to continue today in the Supreme Court with Dr Bain completing his evidence.

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