Posts Tagged ‘Law’

On September 15, 2016 one of Jamaica’s most well-known clergymen Rev. Merrick “Al” Miller was sentenced to a fine of J$1,000,000.00 or a term of 12 months in prison following his conviction for “Perverting the course of justice.” This conviction has come about due to his now infamous role in the drama that ended in the ultimate arrest of Jamaica’s most wanted fugitive Mr. Christopher “dudus” Coke following the events of great upheaval in May 2010.

I have very strong feelings about this case in terms of the ethics of what Rev. Miller was doing on the day in question and the larger society is torn on this matter. There are some saying “no-one is above the law” and wished to see a greater punishment. Conversely, there are those who see Rev. Miller as a sacrificial lamb, who was giving a heroic and helping hand to the State in a perilous time who has been thrown to the wolves by those he indeed sought to assist. Ultimately, the final arbiter of legal right or wrong in the land has found the pastor guilty of an offence.

Rather than further delving into the merits of this conviction or the “rightness” of Rev. Miller’s actions, I actually want to tread on what might be more controversial territory and that is the interplay between ones moral/religious beliefs of right or wrong and the law. My conclusion is that the reaction of Rev. Miller to his fate, though seemingly begrudgingly on his part, is instructive in how I think this relationship between religion, in this case Christianity, and the law should be treated.

Rev. Miller has said and implied several things that I do not agree with but where we are at one is his explanation for why he will not appeal the decision of the Courts in this matter. He essentially stated that though he does not agree with the decision, as a Christian principle , doing what we feel is “right” can run counter to the law and/or have grave negative consequences. If we feel our action to be right then we are to do right no matter what the consequences are. Therefore rather than wishing for the legal consequences to be eased because of our Christianity, we should face them head on accepting that it is honourable to suffer for doing right if we truly feel we are right.

To be abundantly clear, I am on no way endorsing the choices of Rev. Miller in his episode with Mr. Coke, in fact based on the information I have encountered about the incident, his actions at best leave me uncomfortable. I am however saying that for persons who ascribe to the Christian faith or any moral compass really, doing what we feel is right can come with harsh repercussions. Too often especially Christians want everything in the world to operate based on their/our principles and all structures in the world should bend to the views of the Church.

I struggle to see a biblical basis for this self-entitlement syndrome but I stand to be corrected. The Bible, from my understanding, intimates that the Christian standard and the “world” or legal standard can and often will be at odds. If ascribing to the former leads to trouble with the latter sometimes we might just have to “hug it up.”

Don’t confuse me to be saying unjust laws should not be challenged. My larger point is that the role of the Christian is not to try and legislate morals and feel so special that the law will always be in alignment with one particular moral code. When we start to think that way we become lazy and want the law to do our job for us.

National servant or egregious wrongdoer? That is in the eye of the beholder. But for certain no-one is above the law. Though probably half halfheartedly, I am impressed by the Good Reverend’s “submission” to the law of the land. His alleged choice of “chariot” to leave his sentencing hearing…not so much.

Selah!

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack. Its been a really long while but i guess I have not been sufficiently moved by any of the million of things happening in the world to write on…UNTIL NOW!!!

I might be a bit late in tackling this issue but I feel it is such a pivotal watershed in the history of Caribbean regional integration that I had to put my two cents into the hat. Let me start with a hyperbole that might not be so ridiculous when you think about it: Shanique Myrie may have just become the most important person in the history of Caribbean regional integration. I hope sirs Eric Williams, Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, Forbes Burnham and Grantley Adams don’t take too much offence at this assertion in their restful state. But it cannot be an overstatement to say that the actions of Miss Myrie and her legal team to take the issues of alleged human rights violations as well as denial of hassle free entry into a Caricom state as a Caricom citizen, to the Caribbean Court of Justice and the the subsequent ruling of said court, have done more to push the regional movement forward than perhaps anything any Caribbean leader or Caricom Heads of Government Decision has done for the past 10 to 15 years maybe even more. Again maybe I exaggerate but so great is the current moment from my point of view.

I will not go into the legalese and bore you with the details of the case and the ruling verbatim, but suffice it to say that the CCJ has ruled once and for all that Caribbean citizens should not be hassled, mistreated, maligned and repatriated by border agents in countries that proclaim to be working towards a single market and economy which at its foundation must engender the free movement of Caricom nationals across national borders. No longer can the “Caricom’ at the top of our passports be seen as an empty gesture. Once it cannot be proven that we are “undesirable” or a potential “burden on the state purse” we cannot be willy nilly denied entry by our fellow Caricom neighbours.

This is indeed a watershed. We have all heard horror stories of Caricom nationals being ill-treated at the airports across the region. We also know that citizens of certain countries have often been treated as the dregs of the region and stereotyped and singled out for denial of their free movement regionally. Jamaicans and to a lesser extent Guyanese have borne the brunt of this treatment but in some way shape or form the entire region has displayed aspects of the ailment that is killing the region: INSULARITY AND BADMIND. All of us in the region to varying degrees have the “me myself and I” syndrome that has stifled any real economic progress of the regional integration movement. What this landmark CCJ ruling has done is to shine a light on these ills and hopefully now some real implementation of free movement can take place. We can only hope that the Caricom Secretariat is quick to draft the guidelines for this hassle free treatment of Caricom nationals so we can truly move around freely and develop once and for all this feeling of unity and Community which Caricom was meant to be and can be.

Ms Myrie I hope your actions, the actions of your legal team and the way the CCJ handled this case with the utmost level of professionalism has also once and for all highlighted to our leaders and to the Caribbean society at large that we have competent institutions and Caricom can work if we utilise them. The CCJ came to my doorstep in Jamaica. Could Ms Myrie have afforded redress to the Privy Council? doubt that strongly. If nothing else has this case should show that we have capable people and capable institutions, what is needed is for people to be bold as well as for people to use them.

So all these Caribbean/Jamaican private sector interests who spend so much of their existence bashing Caricom and the unfair way it benefits some versus others – PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. Ms Myrie was brave enough to defend her rights as well as she realised that the only true source for recourse if wronged as a Caricom citizen was through the CCJ. Let us as Caribbean people work together in harmony and when the harmony is disrupted as it will be in any union let us use the institutions we have to smooth it out versus being at each others throats forever.

God Bless You Miss Myrie. Your case has the potential to be the spark to get the fire going.