Sunday, 25 September 2011

Am I Troy Davis? Or am I Khajeel Mais? Am I even significant?

I asked this question as I observed the views expressed  by black people the world over in the final 24 hours leading up to the execution of Troy Davis. I’ve read too many articles about this case, almost all of which were drenched in bias either for or against the stance taken by the state since the arrest of Troy Davis. As a law student, this case really hit home because it brought to the forefront a very controversial issue within law: the death penalty- yay or nay? I will not pretend to truly have set position in regards to this issue. I have, in the past, said that I am all for it but then I had certain conditions that had to be fulfilled before that would be “okay”.

I recall having serious debates with colleagues of mine about this issue. We, of course, looked at cases like Pratt V Morgan and Attorney General V Joseph and Boyce where the major concerns of “cruel and inhumane treatment” and the right to appeal came up. The guidelines adopted by courts under the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was garnered from the cases of Pratt V Morgan and the resulting principle was that anyone convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty had the right to exhaust all appeal options through all courts in the hierarchy in an effort to have their sentenced commuted to life imprisonment. I will refrain from giving details in these cases because it is not a lecture and I am mindful of the fact that non-law student readers are present.

All the same, I bring these cases up to say that my opinion on the Troy Davis case was formulated bearing the justice system of my country and region in mind. That should have been the first red flag for me because a major difference to note is that Troy Davis was tried under the justice system of the United States of America. Their laws and methods of carrying out justice are quite different. Their justice system is based on federal and statutory laws. In the Caribbean region and the United Kingdom, the justice system is based on common law as well as statutory laws. Statutory means official documentation of laws on the books for our states. Each country is a state. So basically, the way they do things and the way we do things are different.
Cruel and inhumane treatment was thought to be what a man experiences when he is on death row for a certain amount of time. The traumatic psychological effects that a man would experience with each passing day- the uncertainty of when your number would be called, getting nervous and fearful each time the guard walked toward your cell- was thought to be too much for any man to be put through, horrendous crime committed aside. As such, based on the fact that it is a breach of a constitutional right to be surrendered to this kind of treatment, it was then established that any man who was on death row for more than five (5) years (3.5 if no resort was made to human rights bodies) would have his sentence automatically commuted.
As I said before, our justice system is based on common law (based on decisions of cases that have set precedence rather than statutes) and operates differently than that of the American system. They have no such rule or principle to follow that is akin to the Pratt V Morgan principle. There have been many theories about the decisions being due to the fact that Troy was a black man and that the state in which he was tried was one of the most racist in the country. How much of that is true, we won’t ever really know. What we do know is that some sort of injustice was served and that the facts do not add up.

There was just too much doubt.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

UWI, Cave Hill: It's no Mona- my first day of school

So I experienced more disorganization. I was slightly unamused. Others were far more irritated but I was preparing myself for this for a while because I had received warnings. I was told that if I thought UWI, Mona was efficient, Cave Hill would amaze me. The sarcasm in that was not lost on me. From the people in Administration approaching at their own leisurely pace and then addressing you as if you were begging a favour rather than requesting what you were owed and promised to the campus bookshop closing indefinitely at about noon due to some issues with the system. There was no sign placed on the door to inform us of this though which I thought was the least they could do. Alas, this was another thing that made me realize I’m not in Jamaica any more. With every issue me and my classmates would have, we’d be responded to with “Welcome to Cave Hill” by those who’ve been through it before. *blank stare*

What I came to learn really quickly though is that the experience you get from this opportunity or circumstance (depending on how you look at it) will be determined by the attitude you approach it with. Honestly, the “hostility” from staff here is no more than that of staff back home. I’d actually say they’re not as bad as those back home. The only real drawback is the system that they have. It seems a bit backward. For example, you have to “renew” your student identification card every year which is really having it validated by getting a sticker put on it with the new school year. I see that this could be beneficial in that students who have not paid their fees would not be able to access benefits that are intended for those who have but at the same time, you have to join a long line just to get a sticker and you have to be in line with students who are getting theirs for the first time who will, no doubt, take longer. And while I’m on the topic of getting new id’s, at Cave Hill, you have a total of six(6) hours per WEEK in which you can attempt to do this. Now, you would think that they’d allot more time for this at least at the beginning of the school year seeing that you cannot access some services on the campus without your id and there are a good amount of new students each year.

But I digress. An important thing to bear in mind is that while some of the admin here don’t care, some of them do. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the most out of your time here- most importantly to leave with the degree you will have no doubt sacrificed for and then to have as great of a cultural experience as possible. The key to survival here is to not stop asking for help until you get it. It (balancing school and exploring and frolicking) has been done before and it has been done with great success so it can be done again.

Pit: I had to stay on campus longer than I intended. Well after classes had ended AND I was broke already on my second day here.
Peak: A couple of our classes were actually cancelled J

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pics from BIM All-Island Tour

Mini reunion of Jamaican students

On the extreme right is the current Guild president, Odwin Trenton

Some of the Jamaican students at Cave Hill

At the Sunbury Great House

My knight armour

Cameras from olden days

Eye stuff from olden days

More eye stuff from olden days

This is a swimsuit circa......olden days

Olden day potty

*throws holy water*

This is a tiny chair. Don't let the angle fool you

Asked Jeff to stand next to it to show perspective

You are reading right- it's a punishment chair

*Throws a gallon of holy water*

In real life, this looks soooo creepy!

*gasps* A black doll!

A wall of maps of Barbados

I wanted to show some of the paintings that had black people in them

These chains and whips do NOT excite me!

Um..... Torturous much?

The NON-AC buses

The view is SO awesome in real life

The Rock. The island of Barbados used to be as high as the top of the rock apparently. The Atlantic Ocean fixed that.