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Courts Urged: Have A Heart

CARLYLE Bethel

CARLYLE Bethel

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

CARLYLE Bethel, the head of the Free National Movement’s Torchbearers youth association, wants judges to be more measured and compassionate when enforcing Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ emergency curfew orders.

He spoke yesterday after Bahamians reacted bitterly to actions taken against those who appear to break curfew while trying to live during an unprecedented crisis. One judge’s decision to fine a teenager $700 for selling coconuts on the side of the road and another’s decision to fine two men who collected water from a public pump before 5am in the morning have sparked concerned commentary in recent days.

Yesterday, the Progressive Liberal Party and former parliamentarian Dr Andre Rollins hit out at what they view as unreasonable penalties imposed at a time when many Bahamians are struggling to make ends meet.

Magistrate Sandradee Gardiner fined Jason Williams $400 for selling roadside coconuts and another $300 for breaking curfew.

Mr Williams, 18, landed before the courts after police stopped to question him and asked for a valid business licence, which he said he was “working on” getting. He was arrested and taken to the Grove Police Station where he admitted to selling two jugs of coconut water and two or three coconut jelly pieces at his stand across from Mario’s Bowling Alley on Harrold Road.

Magistrate Gardiner warned him that if he failed to pay the fines he would be remanded to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services for one month on each charge, to be served concurrently.

His fines were paid yesterday after concerned citizens raised the money.

Mr Bethel said yesterday: “When the Torchbearers saw that the young man was arraigned and charged, we felt we should come together and assist him. We raised $700 to pay for the fine. We went (to court yesterday) and once there we realised (Families of All Murder Victims) was there and paid the fine.”

Mr Bethel said the Torchbearers will seek to either help the man find employment or connect him to the Small Business Development Centre to get a business licence.

“We cannot make a law for every situation and that’s why you have the courts and magistrates, to interpret each case and use the law as a guideline and apply their own measured judgment to each case so we can have a measured approach,” he said.

“The government cannot instruct them on what to do, cannot direct on what to do and what to say so it’s incumbent on them to deal with these cases with a measured approach.

“The government is fighting a war on two fronts, health and economic, and is doing a good job so far and has been praised by the international community for their response. I think courts in exercising their duties and mandate should exercise it with love and compassion and do so with a measured approach in response to violations of emergency order.”

“I think it is important that we as Bahamians abide by the (laws put in place), they’re there for a reason. We don’t want to criminalise (the) entrepreneurial spirit of young people though. I deal with young people all the time in my role as president. Countries are closing ranks, looking in at their own people to supply business opportunities and goods that are needed. We have to do the same and encourage that entrepreneur, that manufacturing, that Bahamian industry if we want to come out of this on a strong footing,” Mr Bethel said.

Dr Rollins, meanwhile, said the country looked silly for fining a young man $700 because he sold coconuts on the side of the street.

“If the restaurant in Lyford Cay can sell wine to their customers,” the former Fort Charlotte MP said in a Facebook post, “how do you rationalise depriving a vendor exercising proper precautions the right to sell the coconut water to his?”

He was referring to an upscale market that was allowed to sell liquor while other alcohol merchants were prohibited from doing the same earlier during the pandemic.

Dr Rollins added: “In these difficult times, what if he cannot secure the $700 fine? Are you really going to jail him in a prison with a population of 2,000 that was originally made to house few more than 750? Through our collective outcry, we the public must compel our elected representatives to muster the country to speak up for the downtrodden. The persecution of the poor must stop. To the ‘competent’ authority: he who is powerful must be merciful.”

Justin Smith, an aspiring PLP candidate, said it is unconscionable that Mr Williams was fined for “violating an arbitrary curfew.”

“I will be advocating,” he said, “that when the PLP returns to office it wipes away these criminal records in all of these matters and returns the monies that were extracted from people in these unfair circumstances.

“This is not justice. This is injustice. This is not right. It is wrong.”

Comments

The_Oracle 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It could well be the silver lining of this Pandemic, that of reflection, the overt display of our failings. NIB, the inordinate processing timelines and bureaucracy, the Apparent non remittance of employee contributions, tardiness in contributions, and the "deals" made to supposedly pay arrears. Quite simply, fraud and theft. Is this not what the Judges should be presiding over? The subject of this article, that of access to Justice, or lack of, and the inconsistency. Murderers get bail, Coconut sellers get hard time. People going to jail for lack of Potable water?
A lack of decent and sanitary prison facilities. I believe Fox Hill was built for 400, not 750, yet it houses over 2000. A national travesty and shame. Are we really going to send Covid violators to what is no doubt the worst prison in the Hemisphere? Our lack of respect for the Dead is longstanding, the lack of care and upkeep of the paupers graveyard has been in and out of the press for decades. Much food for thought in this. And this list could literally be endless.

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stislez 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Sad....just sad! Where there is no togetherness the opportunity to take advantage of one is as great or greater than the gap setting us apart. Whats even sadder is i don't see a end to it, i dont see a brighter day ahead. Its all downhill when you keep electing the same people. We the bahamian people out number the police force, the defense force, immigration and the government. Matter of fact WE make up those agencies. If we all come together and stand against the government what are they going to do but hear us! Cant lock up erryone! Look at other countries how they rise up and take on or overthrow, force people out. Countries taking on their own government and puttin dese man dem out! We continue to complain but take nooooooooo action. If you tie ur dog an he hungry, because he tie he get feed wen u ready. When he break dat chain an get out ur yard he able to feed himself......................side note..................yall know the same trick been working on people from day one, especially BLACK PEOPLE! You could get black people to do almost anything for money! Sell out their country, their people, their culture etc. Yall ever realized the leaders of our country so old they operating off of out dated education. Like who politician been take a refresh course or something from they come out college or school in the 70's or 80's? I dont even think these politicians understand social media smh. When you ignorant it much easier to swing you and i see the government been getting swing and then in turn swing they own people. The arrgonite deal.....swing.......the oil shit......swing........the number houses thing........(petty).......bahamar........swing........the Pointe.......swing.......lyford cay.......swing........wto.......swing........national insurance......swing.......court......swing.......the dump thing.......swing. Talking bout the international community praise them for the way they handle covid 19........yeh yeh yeh........while the planning on how much more land they coming for.

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TigerB 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I watch this story last night with interest. In some cases when the COVID 19 emergency order is broken there is call for compassion, and at times when it's is broken there are calls for resignation... but in all fronts it was broken... I am reminded in the Book of 1 Samuel 15, when saul was rejected as King. His mission was simple, kill every man, woman, child and animal...HE did all of it except the best of the sheep, he saved them and brought them back to sacrifice... you know the story well. Long story short, Samuel told him that obedience is better than sacrifice. My point is why challenge the law or take chances for a good cause and break it and not accept what the penalty is for such cause? Ask Dwayne Sands. I Can't have compassion for anyone who has kill someone because he was drunk and then was caught his excuse was that he was drunk. As an old police officer, we were taught in the police college that ignorance is no excuse. This was those who didn't know better, so for those who do and break the law... well obedience is better than sacrifice..

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RealTalk 1 month, 2 weeks ago

"well obedience is better than sacrifice" ..... If your dad tells you to jump off a 3 story building or run your car into a wall with your baby inside; that's what your going to do? Because obedience is better than sacrifice?

Come on we have to think for ourselves and use good judgement no matter what was said or who said it. Let us be leaders and not followers.

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Hoda 1 month, 2 weeks ago

No, but as an officer serving your community wielding the authority of your uniform and position, you have the discretion to be sensible and say to the young man im not sure if this is allowed, go home, give a warning....anyway im not gonna say anything else, for these police look ya up for pointing out there failings.

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You have made a very salient point that has caused me to pause and think. We want some to resign who break the cover orders but we don't want it for others. Maybe it is because we are subbiminably playing a political game. You really left me with something to ponder.

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Hoda 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Officers have discretion, the decisions they make or do not make, the questions they ask can be the difference between a lawful arrest and unlawful arrest, between a charge being thrown out or pursued. I think that all matters are not black and white. however, if his stance is it black and white we should ponder further what that means in our society, it is timely given all the conversation about quarantine inequality. For instance, if he was to let the coconut seller go and arrest persons known to infringe lockdown orders in lyford day would we be equally outraged

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RealTalk 1 month, 2 weeks ago

In the words of the PM...Are you humane? Where is your heart? Where is your compassion? Do you have a soul?

They have been arresting and charging HOMELESS BAHAMIANS from the onset. They should have went to court and be placed in those hotels used for returning residents. There are many Bahamians who would have donated clothes to those people to have clean clothes to wear. I guarantee you that they would have been more than grateful. They are human beings too SMH

With great power comes greater responsibility. Use your discretion in arresting and handing down sentences to individuals.

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DDK 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Talk about draconian. Fire the heartless judges AND their superior for allowing this to continue for so long while real criminals walk daily! Ditto for the nasty police who turn the other way when real crime occurs and are often criminals themselves.

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You cannot fire the judges for doing their job. What I thin though would have been better that rather than fining the people for curfew violations, the judges should rather give them some community service. They would still have the consequence for breaking the law, but the punishment would be seem excessive in that way.

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This man should look to his Leaders King Dames and King Minnis. they are in charge. Ask them where is their hearts and ??. the answer they have none. Are they giving you lessons in telling LIES.

How coinvent is it that you arrived to pay the fine after it was all ready paid.i

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themessenger 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Take note of who paid the fine Bird bungy, I didn't see Brave, Chester, Glennis or Picewell lining up with their checkbooks to help out that po lil black boy who trying to make an honest living instead of tiefin. SMT!

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BahamasForBahamians 1 month, 2 weeks ago

And they shouldn't!

This problem falls square at the feet of the incompetent authority and his policy makers. Nothing to do with judges like comrade Carlyle would like us to think, nor the opposition. The general public of po lil black boys should remember who turned them from honest earners to criminals with the stroke of a pen and without any compassion or love. This government.

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Hoda 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Yes,im sure Minnis envisioned a Bahamas were men are arrested for selling coconut water and dspecidically directed all police me and woman to arreast coconut water sellers...because the young men and woman of the Bahamas have never once complained of the ignorant, bullish behaviour of police men

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moncurcool 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Spot on. It shows you who the real persons with heart are, and who the ones just opening their mouths for political brownie points are. You always hear Davis and his crew opposing, but never helping. They talk about what was done to the man, but have no heart to show up and help the man. Hypocrites, Jesus would call them.

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Hoda 1 month, 2 weeks ago

They are busy giving out cornbeef and white rice to after they told us to make signs telling Minnis to keep his cornbeef.

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banker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If Bahamians knew that the penalty was just a slap on the wrist, do you think that they would comply with the law?

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joeblow 1 month, 2 weeks ago

… but these are not normal times. many have not worked for 7 weeks and just need to eat! Courts can use greater discretion!

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thps 1 month, 2 weeks ago

“The government cannot instruct them on what to do, cannot direct on what to do and what to say so it’s incumbent on them to deal with these cases with a measured approach."

Are these cases civil or criminal?

If they're criminal isn't it the crown who brings these cases? Can't the crown decline to prosecute the case? If they don't want to take that route, can't the law provide judges with wide-ranging discretion on penalties? Can't the government use about 2 months worth of data on persons who break the rules and amend them to be more 'compassionate' based on these cases? Can't guidance be given to the police?

His answer is to blame the judges and say the state who implements, policies, and prosecutors the rule hands are tied.

Seems like a cake and eat it too situation.

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Don't be fooled by the sudden flashes of compassion. Those stepping forward eager to blame everyone and anything but their dear leader red coats party - they all soundalikes when the statements were written by the comrade sister Erica up in OPM.
Minnis is a phoney compassionate, and so are they who prop him up to stick around, Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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TigerB 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It is a simple solution.. stay ya behind home this weekend and you wouldn't end up paying those monies...bottom line

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thps 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Or call 311 since emergencies do arise.

It strikes me a strange that he (Bethel) disagrees with the punishment but puts it on the judges. The judges sure can be more lenient, but so can the police, the prosecutor, and the lawmaker

.

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Porcupine 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Bottom line is we should look in the mirror and ask how we lost our humanity. You especially.

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SP 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Beyond shameful and downright embarrassing!! The heartless judge has been correctly judged by the people.

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The shocking thing about the magistrate who was so harsh on the young boy who was selling coconuts is she is young and female. Guess she had a lot of plastic in her bag. Not an inkling of motherly instincts. No compassion . She has something against coconuts obviously. Yes

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The fact is the police brought him to her court handcuffed and shackled. After keeping him in a holding cell for three days. And in her shining robe and collar she inflicted more harm and punishment on him. The stiff neck women of Zion would have more compassion.‘ 16 The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. 17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” 18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms,‘

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Bonefishpete 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Maybe just open it up. All of it.

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BONEFISH 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Justice should have been tempered with mercy in this matter.

The law reform commissioner Dame Anita Allen should look at this matter with a view to revising the criminal code.These penalties seem a bit harsh.She should look at making amendments and modernizing the code.Her recommendations should go to cabinet for review.The amendments then can be drafted and brought in parliament.

That is one of the primary roles of parliaments.That is to review and pass laws.However most of our MPs main job is to play cheerleader to the front bench and beat on tables.

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SP 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Extreamly cold hearted, callous, judge. I bet she has dog or cat at home that she wouldn't let sleep in Fox Hill prison for a second, but she has no problem banishing hard working honest people there for months! How do people like this sleep at night??

This is only one of many cases where judges were found inhumane and vastly deficient in metting out "justice". People with proven lack of empathy should not be alllowed to "judge" other people.

Judges function with impunity, which is more than likely the cause of their habit of cruelty. Unquestionably, in all cases, absolute power corrupts absolutley! How do we "flatten the curve" of the prevalence of this sort of injustice that is so well known in our court system?

What is the recourse for wayward judges? Are judges the only perfect and infallible individules in the country?

As with any situation of oversite, there needs to be checks and balances to ensure judges remain grounded and accountable for their actions!

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mandela 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I think it starts with our D-average robots we call policemen who are incapable of thinking for themselves and lack any comprehension skills, they lock up the man first for three days for hustling instead of begging the government, then the judge finishes him off by making him pay $700.00. Whatever happened to the rich other people (foreigners) who flew in and landed during the lockdown and curfew? they never saw inside a court and were never fined. From the outside looking in if you're poor dog eat ya lunch, this government is allowing the poor to suffer unnecessarily and the rich to show us the difference

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