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Operating with impunity

By Martin Daly

 Many readers have accepted my proposition that involvement in the performing arts is one route of salvation for our youth at risk.  I look forward to your support of Little Carib’s fund raiser, on Wednesday at the theatre.  We present an authentic Carnival experience at 1 p.m.  It is an ideal event for visitors and house guests. You can pay your $300 at the door.

Supporting programmes for our youth at risk becomes more urgent every day.  Many of those who doubted me when I described the dangerous road down which we were heading now see that I was neither pessimist nor nihilist.  I was dealing with a clear and present reality.

Ten years ago I warned that we were heading for a form of coup d’etat in which the constitutional Government might remain in place but have no real control of the maintenance of general obedience to the laws, rules and regulations of the land.

I did so by reference to Professor Hart’s jurisprudential work, The Concept of Law, in which he describes such an event as “the simple breakdown of ordered legal control in the face of anarchy or banditry without political pretensions to govern”.  I said in May 2003 that it was clear that we were heading in that direction.

At that time, ten years ago, I was urging a re-awakening of civic responsibility.  I quoted a famous member of the US Supreme Court who, in 1954, was part of a panel that decided that segregation in schools was unconstitutional.

Justice Frankfurter wrote: “Ultimately there can be no freedom for self unless it is vouchsafed for others; there can be no security where there is fear, and a democratic society presupposes confidence and candor in the relations of men with one another and eager collaboration for the larger ends of life instead of the pursuit of petty selfish or vainglorious aims.”

Last week, I returned to this theme when I suggested to the members of AmCham that the business community, professional organisations and individuals with clout, ought not to continue their reticence in commenting on deeply concerning incidents in the public domain.

I was a participant in a panel dealing with white-collar crime.  I chose as my topic “Institutional and Cultural Factors relating to White Collar Crime”. One of the cultural factors to which I referred was the silence and passivity of the validating elites in the face of outrageous events such as the disclosure that 17 cocaine packaging type pellets were removed from the stomach of someone admitted to a private nursing home by a surgeon, presumably connected with that nursing home. 

 I asked my audience why there was no comment on this amazing event other than one medical practitioner saying, laughably in my view, that what was the duty of the doctors, the nurses and nursing home administration in those circumstances was a “grey area”.

Knowing the fear that businessmen have of being branded “political”, I suggested that there was nothing political in making a lot of noise to have this matter of the pellets properly investigated and for prosecutions to ensue.  There should be no cause for fear because the actions of those involved plainly require accountability. 

To ignore them is to contribute to the destruction of the maintenance of ordered legal control of our country and to confirm the impunity conceded to the criminals in our midst.

In fact I asked whether the stomach operation was a white-collar crime, given that the act was non-violent, no doubt richly rewarding, and one involving concealment and deceit, some of the recognised hallmarks of a white-collar crime.

Many persons making rounds of the panyards recently saw the shooting of the GPS company owner by the Savannah. This was another demonstration of the complete impunity with which murder can be carried out, a clear sign of the breakdown of ordered legal control in our land.  Violent crime receives no punishment. Our Governments obtusely do not understand the serious implications of the impunity factor.

In the course of my presentation at AmCham I was also critical of the professional associations for their reticence to comment on some of the more outrageous acts and omissions that keep us lawless.  I disagree with the Law Association that there would be nothing wrong with the President of the republic putting retired Justice Ventour back on the Integrity Commission.

Has the association received a private explanation (perhaps while in a fete) how the fiasco of Ventour’s resignation occurred?  The public has not received one; nor have we received full disclosure about the continuing use of one-day judges.

The association should have a long neck craning like a giraffe looking into the high cloisters where these unsettling decisions are made. Without explanations for those decisions we playing ostrich for Carnival 2014, heads buried in the fine sands of the all-inclusive not looking past the beguiling masks.

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