Wed | Aug 10, 2022

Ronald Thwaites | Keeping it simple

Published:Monday | June 27, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Anyone detained should be brought before a court at least once a week for a judge to determine custody, bail or release. Simple, fair and constitutional.
Anyone detained should be brought before a court at least once a week for a judge to determine custody, bail or release. Simple, fair and constitutional.
Francis Tulloch
Francis Tulloch
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With all this confusion, concerning every pundit trying to parse the Emergency Powers Regulations, why not keep it simple? Anyone detained should be brought before a court at least once a week for a judge to determine custody, bail or release....

With all this confusion, concerning every pundit trying to parse the Emergency Powers Regulations, why not keep it simple? Anyone detained should be brought before a court at least once a week for a judge to determine custody, bail or release. Simple, fair and constitutional; and clear for the police to be guided and for a prisoner to rely on. Anything less is dressed-up fascism. Governor Eyre resurrected.

And I insist, within three months of being charged, a trial must begin. There are enough lawyers to serve as judges, prosecutors and defence counsel. Train brighter policemen to gather evidence. Invest some more in justice. Simple, righteous too.

All that the ‘revised’ regulations scrambled together last week achieve is a cobbling of the previous wording in a grudging attempt to avoid some of the excrescences detailed starkly by Mr Justice Stamp and his sisters in the epochal Clarke judgment.

The lawyers who drafted, defended, and continue to defend the barbarity of the original regulations, whereby a citizen could be held indefinitely without charge or effective recourse to a court, ought to be brought before the General Legal Council and themselves charged, tried and sanctioned for their contempt of the Constitution which they swore to uphold. It’s that bad. Simple.

What rot is this about justifying the states of emergency by invoking the primordial right to life? Locking up a person indefinitely or restricting citizens on the allegation that their conduct “is prejudicial to public safety or public order”, as adjudged by a policeman, a politician or a fireman; all that is no defence to life, no therapy against murder.

Who will tell journalists, lawyers, parsons and politicians that their “acts and utterances” are exempt from the breadth of these provisions? All that is injustice upon injustice. Simple.

“Him can get release anytime you know, Mr Thwaites,” the senior police officer told me about the man held without bail or charge for more than a month – thereby losing his hustling and his children deprived of food. “All him have to do is tell us whey di gun dem deh.”

Isn’t that the same thing that was done to Pearnel in the ‘70s? No charge, plenty rumour and hysteria. He could be free if only he would implicate his leader and others in the gun business. Wrong then, wrong now. Wrong in any circumstance. Don’t we learn anything from past excesses? Babsy, don’t you remember? Pearnel Jr, what are you defending now?

WHERE IS YOUR VOICE?

Civil society, where is your voice against all this? Church, media and business interests, hope you haven’t drunk the Jim Jones Kool-Aid. No? Maybe just rum for breakfast then … ?

Now that our back-to-Africa escapade has ended, it is time for some realistic, not ‘follow-back-a-Boris’, foreign policy. We should spend more time than we spent skinning up to other countries who can’t help us, in humbly and contritely making back friends with Venezuela, with the prospect of arranging PetroCaribe Phase 2. This need not imply any endorsement of Maduro’s domestic policy. It certainly will involve jettisoning the stupidity of considering Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela and playing ‘pee-pee, cluck-cluck’ to the trumpists at the Organization of American States.

Then with food security being paramount in every Jamaican’s consciousness, could we put aside the personalist résumé-building and enthusiastically join up with the admirable Ms Mottley, the Guyanese, Belize and the Latin Caribbean in affording intra-regional sea and air transport as an urgent prerequisite for a CARICOM food security plan. Simple. Far more important than the expensive Commonwealth caper. Old-time people say “yu mus dance a yard before yu dance abroad!” Oh, for a revival of the federal spirit!

REMEMBERING FRANCIS

Francis Tulloch was one of the big boys who I looked up to, both in stature and achievement, at St George’s College in the 1950s. He participated in everything, had a sly, ‘wicked’ sense of humour behind which was a contemplative and compassionate spirit. Besides all that, every Alpha girl had a mad crush on this tall guy with the slow smile and laconic lyrics. Who could want more?

Francis became the kind of lawyer who could psych out a client’s or a witness’s real interests and motives and play to them. Sensitivity was his strong suit. Soon his appreciation of the limits of the law nudged him towards politics, where he could, and did, influence public policy. Michael Manley’s mentorship did the rest to impel him into a career of exemplary public service.

After that, still infected with the holy spirit of service to humanity, Rev Francis Tulloch took holy orders and spent his last fruitful years ministering to God’s people, just as he had always aspired. He was never superficial, but always gracious and substantial.

A good way to live. Give thanks for his time among us.

Rev Ronald G. Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.