Jamaican Gov't should speak up for BujuWednesday, May 20, 2015
The news that the US Federal prosecutors dropped the gun charge against international reggae star Buju Banton was bittersweet. The prosecutors only agreed to drop the charge if and only if Buju dropped his appeal.
This is tragic for Buju because he had an excellent chance of winning his appeal due to juror misconduct in his trial. One of the jurors that decided Buju's fate is now being prosecuted for illegally conducting independent research and lying about it in court. Her case is set for trial in Tampa, Florida, in August.
Buju, who has probably lost all faith in the American justice system, appears to be tired of the battle with Uncle Sam. After two trials, two appeals, and three lawyers, Buju no longer believes he can get justice in the US and does not want to have to do an additional five years if he gambles and loses his appeal.
I am not surprised, and I understand his position. What I don't understand is the Jamaican Government's silence in the face of such a miscarriage of justice. Uncle Sam can steal away one of Jamaica's favourite sons on trumped-up drug charges and we don't put up a fight?
Granted, the appeal for justice on Buju's behalf may fall on deaf ears, given the Obama Administration's seemingly close relationship with gay rights groups and the grudge misguided gay groups have had against Buju for over 20 years for a song he penned as a teenager. However, despite the obstacles, the Jamaican Government should speak up for Buju and not blindly accept the US Government's version of the facts surrounding his case. Especially since, the US criminal justice system has one of the worst reputations in the world and Buju's case was fraught with holes.
Buju's music has inspired many in Jamaica and the world. His album Til Shiloh is regarded as one of the best reggae albums of all time. Even Lisa Hanna, Jamaica's minister of youth and culture, recently posted the lyrics to Buju's song Not an easy road on Instagram during her recent tribulations. In the footsteps of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Buju championed the cause of the oppressed and was indeed the voice of the voiceless. Now that he is unable to speak, we must speak for him and fight for his freedom. In the fight for justice for Buju, the Jamaican Government should be on the front lines.
Tasha C Rodney, Esq