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FIVE PERCENT FOR JUDGES? by Gerry Kangalee

posted 19 Sep 2011, 18:06 by Gerry Kangalee
Sitting on his Volney-designated lofty perch, the CJ presided over his bibbed and be-gowned comrades, buttering up the Prime Minister; assuring incredulous citizens that there was no need to panic, (their rights were protected) and making a pitch for a salary increase for judges. After all, most of them, he said, are educating children and servicing mortgages.

 I hold no brief for or against the CJ and, like me, he’s entitled to express his opinion. Shucks...I forgot that as a trade unionist I have lost that right, you know the one – freedom of expression. 

Unlike other citizens, trade unionists may not disseminate flyers that are likely to lead to a breach of the peace or cause disaffection or discontent, hold public meetings or use public address systems without the permission of the Commissioner of Police. Of course, the police decide what may cause a breach or discontent.

I defend to the max the CJ’s right to free expression. It’s a pity he hasn’t reciprocated and defended my right to free expression. Shouldn’t he be the leading defender of constitutional rights? Or am I getting confused by rubbish written in political theory texts that don’t apply when workers in their farseness try to feel that they are people too.

“The constitution has not been suspended,” intoned the CJ. Cold comfort to those who in non-SOE times saw the police as the best-armed and most vicious gang of the lot and who now are being told that these same characters are protecting “our way of life.” 

Cold comfort to those whose children have been abducted by marauding policemen, whose money has been stolen during raids, whose doors have been kicked down, who have been arrested in the dead of night for not paying traffic tickets.

Cold comfort for those who allege they have been beaten with shovels and tortured by having plastic wrapped around their heads at the Morvant police station. 

Citizens, the CJ said, still have recourse to the courts to enforce their still existing rights. Yeah right. Court cases go on for years and years and if you don’t have the money to hire the right lawyers, just forget it. It is not necessarily the criminal who ends up in prison; it is not necessarily the innocent who “win their case”. As calypsonian Luta said, “the system works for the rich. It doesn’t work for the poor“.
 
In his bid to persuade the government to run something the CJ said that Judges have children to educate and mortgages to service. Don’t we all? Except in some of our cases we have rent payments to meet. Isn’t it interesting that when workers make the same argument for decent wage increases we are accused of being selfish, unpatriotic and unwilling to make sacrifice in the national interest?
 
When their worships make the argument they are defending the independence of the judiciary; guarding against corruption and ensuring that there is no water in the brandy. 

What is clear is: just like John Gill was arrested on a warrant by armed police at his home during curfew hours for failing to pay a traffic ticket and PP MP Nela Khan was reprimanded and discharged on the same charge after being served a summons, the judicial system, like everything else in this country, responds to who you are; what you have and who you know. Such is the nature of class society.
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