Hugh Wildman, a former senior prosecutor who has served across the Caribbean, asserted earlier this month that judges in Jamaica and the rest of the region are not capable of delivering judgements that are on par with their British counterparts. Professor Gus John reacted to his remarks, saying:
Hugh Wildman is not only making some very backward assertions about intellectual capacity and skills in jurisprudence, he is failing to ask the right questions about the way our court system in the region operates to the disadvantage of the poor who cannot afford top notch lawyers.
There is a glaring ‘inequality of access to justice’ issue which runs throughout the Caribbean and which every single government ignores, especially as the apparatuses of the State (police, army, unofficial militia of senior politicians) are themselves typically responsible for the denial of the basic human rights of citizens. The issue of extra-judicial killings (police executions) in Jamaica, for example, and the intimidation of Human Rights lawyers and activists is what makes the population thankful for the existence of the Privy Council, despite the fact that the majority of the population do not have access to it for want of the cost of hiring senior lawyers, not that they consider that lawyers in the region lack the competence of Privy Councillors in Britain.
In the late 1960s/early 1970s, the likes of John la Rose, myself, Sivanandan, Barry Troyna and others fought the British establishment which was allowing the scientific racism texts of Hans Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Phillipe Rushton and others to be used in teacher training, reinforcing racist perspectives on the ‘race’ and intelligence issue. This appears to be the sub-text of Wildman’s arguments. Truth is that he might just not even consider that it could be interpreted as such.
Read more about the remarks made by Hugh Wildman.
(Photo credits: Print screen from “The Gleaner”‘)