Lack of justice nourishing cynicism
A positive outcome of the Keating Report was the Child Care Act, which spawned a number of oversight offices, including that of the Children’s Advocate, whose job it is to pursue the rights and welfare of children. It is that office which was behind the case on behalf of the Armadale six, who are now adults, which claimed breaches of the constitutional rights by the Jamaican State.
Indeed, section 13(2)(h) of the Constitution guarantees Jamaicans “the right to equitable and humane treatment by any public authority in the exercise of any function”, while (k) (i) of the same section guarantees to every child “such measures of protection as are required by virtue of the status of being a minor or as part of the family, society and the State”.
While the six girls in this case did suffer physical injuries during the events of 2009, it is clear that the Jamaican State did not live up to its obligations and further proved that they suffered psychologically as a result. Significantly, lawyers for the Jamaican State, in the end, conceded these points. On the face of it, and subject to any period of limitations that may apply, the way appears open to others of the Armadale girls to see redress.
But just as important is the fact that critical Jamaican institutions, embracing big ideas about rights and democracy, worked. That is civilising. THE EDITOR, Sir: IN THE aftermath of any tragedy which grips the national attention, we are confronted by numerous ghosts which never seem to cease haunting us. These ghosts of our collective past, present and possibly future, serve as frightening reminders of the daily horrors which are visited, far too frequently, on many nameless citizens of this country. There are communities across the length and breadth of Jamaica which bleed daily.
This latest massacre in March Pen, Spanish Town, has served to not only divert the nation’s attention, if only for a moment, from the inner city of Montego Bay, but also to add to the burgeoning statistics for the categories of child and adult fatalities. But, unfortunately still, the ugliest reflection of this latest episode is perhaps the heavy dose of venomous cynicism which it has injected into the national bloodstream. This cynicism, which is fed by serious doubts and a lack of confidence in the investigative capacity of the constabulary and further nourished by a gaping abyss existing where justice should be, is growing and its insidious effects of learned helplessness are becoming crippling.