Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mourning for Dana and justice


murdered: Dana Seetahal

Mark Fraser

 Don’t get me wrong. The nation has suffered a significant loss due to the death of Senior Counsel, former senator and Express columnist Dana Seetahal on May 4. Although most people were shocked by this, I was not. How quickly we forget that only last August another lawyer was gunned down in Grand Bazaar.

Over the years many state witnesses have also been murdered. It was only a matter of time before criminals brazenly targeted lawyers as well.

Is it any wonder that citizens fear to bear witness in court when there is no confidence in our witness-protection programme and the threat of death looms ominously overhead?

The problem with killing state witnesses and lawyers is that not only will it hinder present efforts to mete out justice, but future attempts as well. 

Which one of us will want to risk making ourselves a target by becoming a state witness? 

How many would encourage their children to become lawyers if it meant a possible early grave? Our murder detection rate is at an all-time low (three per cent to four per cent).

Justice was on its deathbed for years in this nation, languishing with increases in the murder rate, the killing of state witnesses and now the targeting of lawyers/prosecutors. 

Every unsolved murder, every state witness killing, the mountain of thousands of unsolved crimes each year contributed to the final death throes of our law-enforcement and judicial system. The final nail was driven into our justice system’s coffin with the murder of  Dana Seetahal. It is clear we now reside in a veritable “Wild-West” where the outlaws have no fear of law-enforcement or the justice system and, as such, can we blame citizens for wanting to bear arms to protect their families like the American cowboys of the 17th to the early 20th centuries?

Will the governments of the present and future continue to ignore, remain silent or wait for us as a nation to collectively forget? Will we degenerate into a nation of gun-toting vigilantes?

Only time will tell. However, as our nation mourns the loss of a giant in the legal fraternity, I will also mourn the death of justice in our nation as well.

Arun Ballie 

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