The Caswell Franklyn Column – Frontier Justice in Barbados

Caswell Franklyn,  Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Unity Workers Union

It was heartening to read the Daily Nation of November 22, 2016 to see that some lawyers had expressed concern about a number of antiquated laws that should be removed from the statute books. They reasoned that the removal of these laws would reduce the number of nuisance cases that helps to clog up the courts.

I am also concerned about some of these laws but for different reasons. My view is that the laws in question serve no useful purpose and their use only criminalises mostly young men. The result is that many of them end up with criminal records that, in some cases, prevent them from moving on in life.

One of the offences specifically mentioned was “the 1970s act that makes it a criminal offence to wear something as innocuous as a camouflage swimsuit”. Prosecuting persons for wearing or possession of camouflage happens to be one of my pet peeves. I do not believe that wearing of all types of camouflage clothing is illegal. My view is that overzealous enforcement and misinterpretation of the statute by the authorities, including magistrates, is responsible for many persons being convicted for wearing camouflage clothing, in some circumstances where it is not an offence.

In 1984 the Defence Act was amended to outlaw the wearing and possession of specific types of camouflage clothing or material. Section 188.(1) of the Defence Act states, in part:

188.(1) A person is guilty of an offence who

(b) wears without authority

(i) any uniform or part thereof, or any article of clothing made from any of the disruptive pattern materials used for making the military uniform commonly called “camouflage uniform” or from any other material so nearly resembling any of those materials as is likely to deceive, or

(ii) any uniform or part thereof worn by any military organisation of any country, whether in being or disbanded;

(c) has in his possession without authority

(i) any uniform or part thereof, article of clothing or material mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) or (ii) of paragraph (b).

To my mind the statute is clear. It is an offence to wear clothing made from the type of camouflage material used by the Barbados Defence Force or any material that closely resembles BDF issue. It is therefore inconceivable that the Police would charge someone for wearing pink camouflage and, for me, incredulous to accept that a learned magistrate would convict an accused in such a case.

Since pink camouflage is not worn by the BDF, if a prosecutor wants to assert that it is worn by military of some other country, evidence must be adduced from an accredited representative of the particular country. Failing that, the court would have convicted a person based solely on an unsubstantiated allegation.

Maybe, the lawyers, who expressed concern about these laws, should have gone on to suggest that no accused person should be convicted of any offence without having a defence attorney, unless he opts to represent himself. To my mind, it is unfair to have a trained, professional prosecutor pitted against an accused person, who does not have the skills to represent himself. I am convinced that Dodds prison would have far less occupants if accused persons had a right to an attorney-at-law. There is no shortage of lawyers in this country and because of conditions similar to what can best be described as frontier justice, time is ripe for Government to establish a public defenders department.

At present, Government grudgingly provides lawyers to persons who are accused of serious offences like murder, manslaughter and rape. That is all well and good but what about persons who are accused of lesser offences which attract terms of imprisonment. The liberty of a person is far too serious to be treated in such a cavalier manner in the twenty-first century and definitely not in this fiftieth year of this country’s Independence.

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48 Comments on “The Caswell Franklyn Column – Frontier Justice in Barbados”

  1. chad99999 December 4, 2016 at 1:16 AM #

    Even the wealthiest countries in the western world find it difficult to find resources to provide the poor and downtrodden with adequate legal representation.

    How can the Government of Barbados be expected to provide legal assistance for individuals charges with lesser if fences?

    The underlying problem is a legal system that is far too complicated and too expensive to navigate. Too bad Barbados has doubled down on the allocation of scarce resources to the training of lawyers in the British tradition. That only makes it harder to develop political support for simplifying and demystifying the criminal justice system.

    Like

  2. charles skeete December 4, 2016 at 6:06 AM #

    Very enlightening commentary and the situation with the Rastafarian family and the relevant Government authorities is a case in point. Had they not been fortunate to obtain quality legal representation then they would have lost their case and life would have gone on as normal with all and sundry believing they were in the wrong.

    Like

  3. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 6:34 AM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    The law regarding the wearing of camouflage doesn’t make sense now, but at the time of its implimentation people associated with wearing camouflage were commiting a lot of crime in Barbados. And at that time I distinctively remember the Rastafarian element wore lot of camouflage, and back in the early 1980s, this religious group had had a adversarial relationship with the police in Barbados. And around the same time reggae music was banned on cassette tape because the thinking was it promoted violence amongst the youth in my generation, but this law was quickly repealed. So the camouflage law did make sense back in the early 80s because of its association with the Rastafarian element and reggae music with was believed to promoted violence amongst the youths in Barbados at the time, and I being one of those youths. So in conclusion: I would agree that the time is now that law be remove from the book- given the fact that crime in Barbados is no longer associated with this item of clothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ac December 4, 2016 at 6:47 AM #

    Caswell

    Since pink camouflage is not worn by the BDF, if a prosecutor wants to assert that it is worn by military of some other country, evidence must be adduced from an accredited representative of the particular country. Failing that, the court would have convicted a person based solely on an unsubstantiated allegation.

    If caswell want to bring allegations to forth that Annaki was victimize by Govt , evidence must be accredited and brought forth to show proof. Failing that Caswell allegations can be considered baseless and solely grounded on unsubstantial accusations

    But on the matter of military attire which has become part of civilian attire i agree with the comments ,

    In so far that Barbados has benefited from tourism and tourist visiting our shores from all parts of the world which would have indulge in same practice ,
    Sooner or later a mistake of non recognition which finds a tourist hauled into our courts for wearing military attire would place barbados in hot water and under intense scrutiny globally in similar fashion as to the Myrie case which can end up with barbados having to shell out millions of dollars placed in the reverse by a lawsuit coming from the accused
    Freedom of expression is a constitutional right and should not be tampered or interpreted or adjusted by any law which govt wants to legislate
    We are now living in a global community and visitors coming to our shores know their rights and does not take kindly to aggressive action

    a word of caution

    Like

  5. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 6:49 AM #

    Caswell Frnaklyn

    You could get a better perspective from Wade Gibbons of Barbados Today because at the time of the implimentation of the camouflage law in Barbados, he was a young detective in the CID, and is well aware of the crimes associated with this item of clothing- which prompted the implimentation of this law because he helped enforced it. And I distinctively remember having a conversation with Gibbons regarding the implimentation of the camouflage law and the temporary banned on reggae music in Barbados because he was a lover of reggae music.

    Like

  6. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 7:59 AM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    You’re of the erroneous belief that the state is suppose to spoon feed the citizenry because certain elements of the population do not have the financial wherewithal to provide for their own defence. Where do you draw the line as far as government obligation to the citizenry is concerned? Do you then expect the state to provide transportation for an accused who lives in St. John and is expected to answer charges in a Bridgetown court? Here in the states you’re given the option of a public defender if you’re charged with a serious crime such as a felony, but with misdemeanors and traffic infractions you have to find your own legal representation because some misdemeanors and traffic offences do carry prison time as well. And most of the time the public defender who is paid by the state does a poor job, so it doesn’t really make a difference if you opt for a public defender, or take a chance and represent your own self because the result is often the same.

    Like

  7. Hal Austin December 4, 2016 at 9:06 AM #

    Most people who commit crimes wear shoes; please ban the wearing of shoes.

    Like

  8. David December 4, 2016 at 9:09 AM #

    @Caswell

    Did you follow the conversation on Maria Agard’s FB page yesterday?

    A Gregory Ferguson copied you.

    Like

  9. Old Baje December 4, 2016 at 9:18 AM #

    One of the most iniquitous of our antiquated laws is the Official Secrets Act which bars civil servants (below the level of Permanent Secretary) from speaking publicly about even the most innocuous of subjects. Apparently Government business is none of our business unless the government grudgingly decides to share a little information with us.

    Like

  10. Realist December 4, 2016 at 9:27 AM #

    @Caswell

    I remember as a student it was extolled to us that we should keep away from the courts and hence I tried my best until I was reported on two occasions. On the first occasion I listened to Bobby Morris arguing his case which was similar to mine, at intermission I asked him for some clarification and successfully argued my case. At the end of the episode I resolved that we should acquaint ourselves with basic law. It had to do, it my memory serves me correctly with the summons or whatever it is called not being signed by the magistrate within six months.

    What I am very concerned about is the length of time those with very little resources have to wait to receive justice. My disappointment is , the Chief Justice has not revolutionized the dispensation of justice to the dismay of many Barbadians. Magistrates and Judges need to arrive at work early, among other things.

    Do we have the resources to undertake the expansion of legal aid? I do not think so,. What we should be looking at is finding a solution to the reduction of crime.

    Like

  11. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 9:48 AM #

    Realist

    When you speak of Legal Aid I am quite sure you’re talking about the program which provides legal assistance to people making under a certain income? But the problem with Legal Aid lies in the fact that Legal Aid don’t often take a case unless there is a sure chance of winning the case, and this still lleaves some poor people in want of legal representation.

    Like

  12. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 10:12 AM #

    Hal Austin

    You have understand the social dynamics regarding the camouflage law and the reason why it was implemented in the early 1980s, in order to understand it purpose and intend at the time.

    If my memory serves me correctly, there was a case involving the rape of woman I believe ( and many other crimes committed in the army attire) and the person who committed the act was believed to be a member of Barbados Defence Force, which subsequenltly turned not to be not true, coupled with the fact that a lot of Rastafarians used the wear this military fatigue in the early 1980, and at a time when the police and the Rastafarians community had had a very volatile relationship.

    Like

  13. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 10:23 AM #

    David

    Take or it leave but in the early 1980I, I lived behind one of the major police stations in Barbados, and at that time I knew many many low as well as high ranking members of the force, who knew me as well, so therefore, I was privy to a lot of this information.

    Like

  14. ac December 4, 2016 at 10:24 AM #

    Not here to chisel away at the law but Caswell does make excellent points in his anslysis in that some of these charges are frivilous and chokes up the system with unncessary back log
    Again i must point out that this fatigue law based on criminality makes for govt driving down hill without brakes and trying to find higher ground
    A person of financial means can easily challenged that law and tie the govt in a loops and hooks
    A revamping or discarding of that law is necessary to save country and govt any embarrassment that can be derived due to legal challenges

    Like

  15. Well Well & Consequences December 4, 2016 at 10:27 AM #

    Dompey., what rubbish…there is legal aid available for everyone in the US, funded by city, state and federal agencies..ya suppose to and entitled to have legal representation in any case, even if taxpayer funded the problem in Barbados, the government refuses to adequately or consistently pay these lawyers for their time,

    …you know when am fully backing and supporting lawyers the government is at fault.

    I am sure you have personally heard this at least once in ya life…”if you do not have an attorney, one will be PROVIDED for you.”

    Like

  16. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 10:36 AM #

    Well Well

    Yes on paper, but in reality that is not true because if legal aid determine that your case is hopeless you stand little or no chance of legal representation. Take housing court for example: if legal aid has determine that your case does not merit legal representation, you’re then told by legal aid to try to settle the case with the state mediator.

    Like

  17. Well Well & Consequences December 4, 2016 at 10:42 AM #

    “What I am very concerned about is the length of time those with very little resources have to wait to receive justice. My disappointment is , the Chief Justice has not revolutionized the dispensation of justice to the dismay of many Barbadians. Magistrates and Judges need to arrive at work early, among other things.”

    I am wondering if they are all so enarmored with the concept of the law that they are entirely unable to function. There are complaints about judges turning up for court late, some consideration should be given, by the judges and magistrates, to the people who have to go to work.

    Many are quite disappointed in Justice Gibson who volunteered to be thrown into a pit with leaders and a judicial crowd who do not want change, as I understand, everyone is frustrated.

    Like

  18. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 10:43 AM #

    Well Well

    Yes federal law mandates that anyone charged with a felony should be provided legal representation by a state appointed lawyer, but this does not apply to cases involving misdemeanor a certain minor traffic violations.

    Like

  19. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 10:51 AM #

    Well Well

    The concept of federalism as it relates to the judicial system in America is a complex and perplexing organism. The judicial system in America is divided into four entities:
    1) federal
    2) state
    3) municipal
    4) Indian nations

    Like

  20. Well Well & Consequences December 4, 2016 at 10:52 AM #

    Misdeameanors and traffic violations do not require representation unless the charges can be upgraded…they are still ticketable offenses.

    Like

  21. David December 4, 2016 at 10:56 AM #

    @Caswell et al

    What can you tell us about the national ID project. Yet another government project where many have benefited from monies spent so far with little progress.

    Like

  22. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 11:02 AM #

    Well Well

    What happen to vehicular homocide?
    What happen to Evading responsibility it can either be a misdemeanor or felony?
    What happen to Reckless endangerment? All traffic offences which requires legal representation Well Well.

    Like

  23. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 11:04 AM #

    Well Well

    Remember you live in Canada and I live in the US

    Like

  24. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 11:12 AM #

    Well Well

    Is driving with a suspension/revoked a ticketable offense/ offence in America? It is a traffic infraction but you’re arrested on the spot and thrown in jail.

    Like

  25. Well Well & Consequences December 4, 2016 at 12:10 PM #

    “Misdeameanors and traffic violations do not require representation………. unless the charges can be upgraded”

    Upgraded means…..to felonies.

    Dompey…ah had a rough night, am tired.

    Like

  26. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 12:44 PM #

    Well Well

    You need to focus of Canadian law and leave those who know a little something about American jurisprudence to speak.

    Now in the case of drunk driving with is a misdemeanor, a person can be charged with a felony after his third DUI ,and would need the services of a lawyer to fight his or her DUI at the misdemeanor level before it progress to a felony, so therefore, one would obviously need the services of an attorney to fight to get his or her DUI arrested thrown out.

    Like

  27. Well Well & Consequences December 4, 2016 at 12:53 PM #

    “unless the charges can be upgraded”

    Upgraded means…..to felonies.

    Dompey..this is all I can offer…lol

    Like

  28. lemuel December 4, 2016 at 3:02 PM #

    I can see why the Nation Newspaper would absolutely refuse to print this column. It exposes the hypocrisy of the system where friends and family are protected through the courts but the “little man” has to hold his proverbial “ass” for some good, warm licks from the judicial system.

    We have had people in this country fined or sent to jail for a handkerchief with the “wrong color or patterns” on it.

    Like

  29. David December 4, 2016 at 3:11 PM #

    @lemuel

    You have struck the nail on the head.

    Like

  30. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 3:30 PM #

    Lemuel

    Well Well

    I hear you sista no need to convince me any longer because I got you though you do not understand the point I am trying to make.

    Lemuel

    What you’re saying isn’t anything new because it happens in most countries today, not excluding United States of America. There is a saying in America that: ” When celebrity walks through the front-door of the court justice walks through the back-door.

    Like

  31. Dompey December 4, 2016 at 3:50 PM #

    Lemuel

    You’re talking as though you were in coma since the 1970s because you ought to know that the criminal justice system favoured power, prestige and a certain colour and acting as though you just founded out that the poor man has to carry the heavy burden.
    I remember when a certain deceased police man son who was a friend mine because we attended the Police Christmas Party annually as children for years, was victimizing tours on the beaches of Barbados, and every time he got arrested his mother would speak to Inspector Jones who would called the Station Sergeant and asked that he be released, and this happened for years before the higher up finally decided to arrested him.

    Like

  32. Artax December 5, 2016 at 2:37 AM #

    Read Maria Agard’s FB page…………seems as though she is still a very bitter woman.

    Like

  33. Caswell Franklyn December 5, 2016 at 7:17 AM #

    She should stop venting on Facebook, so far it has done her no good. I was firmly in her corner in her battle with Mia Mottley, until her Facebook postings were drawn to my attention. To my mind, they revealed a person who was unfit to be a member of parliament. After that I lost interest in what Mottley and her motley were doing to her. It would do her a whole lot of good if she takes some time out to see Dr. Beresford Connell. Facebook is not the therapy she needs.

    Like

  34. nineofnine December 5, 2016 at 10:58 AM #

    @Caswell et al

    What can you tell us about the national ID project. Yet another government project where many have benefited from monies spent so far with little progress.

    Like

  35. Dompey December 5, 2016 at 12:46 PM #

    Facebook is an effective medium to get the message across to the listenership quick, fast and in a hurry. And it is the appropriate medium for venting because Donald Trump has shown us how effective Facebook and Twitter can be to get the message out, so the proof is in the pudding.

    Like

  36. millertheanunnaki December 5, 2016 at 1:07 PM #

    @ Caswell Franklyn December 5, 2016 at 7:17 AM
    “It would do her a whole lot of good if she takes some time out to see Dr. Beresford Connell. Facebook is not the therapy she needs.”

    Berry Connell might be a good psychiatrist and a reliable and fine old cawmerian but he is not Jesus Christ. Now who is the person dressed in black that is possessed by demons of ‘radiation’?

    Caswell, you have any swine up by you could lend Barry to do the job? But then again, there is a sty full of them among the political class.

    Like

  37. Dr. Frank Crist Sr. December 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM #

    _____

    Like

  38. Gabriel December 5, 2016 at 3:47 PM #

    Like Caswell I lost what little sympathy I had for Maria since an insider shared copies of her facebook postings.Take it from me,she would make Dame Elsie embarrassed with the cuss words,she being an old scholar of QC.But as a Carrington Village product,one should have expected her flowery language but,to put it in print of her facebook page seem almost a dereliction of duty of care and responsibility.

    Like

  39. Dompey December 5, 2016 at 4:52 PM #

    Gabriel

    So you’re associated gutter- language with the locality in which one was born and bred? Let me understand what you’re trying to say correctly: so anyone who is emotional about a given issue and expresses those emotions in a manner which bespeaks the lack of the appropriate social niceties, is a product of a dysfunction upbring? Man you sound more like a hater who claims that all East Indians spit on the carpet, and wash their hair in the kitchen sink.

    Like

  40. Vincent Haynes December 5, 2016 at 4:53 PM #

    Truth will always out……

    Like

  41. Well Well & Consequences December 5, 2016 at 6:35 PM #

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/91103/writ-filed-release

    This is why no one takes Randall Worrell seriously and the judiciary is seen as a joke, why did Worrell not issue a bench warrant for those officials who refuse to do their jobs.

    Like

  42. William Skinner December 5, 2016 at 9:08 PM #

    @ Gabriel

    I spent parts of my long summer vacations in Carrington Village. It
    Is so sad that in 2016, we have people thinking that way . May I remind
    You that many prominent people came from areas considered to
    be “bad”. Are you trying to say that people from the heights and
    terraces don’t use expletives?

    Like

  43. Jeff Cumberbatch December 5, 2016 at 10:07 PM #

    I am a “product” of Eagle Hall. Am I expected to cuss too?

    Like

  44. Caswell Franklyn December 6, 2016 at 1:23 AM #

    Jeff

    I am sure that all of us know that alternative means of expression, no matter where we come from. But it is highly inappropriate for a member of parliament to use it in a public forum and worse yet, in writing. Elsewhere, she would have been required to vacate her seat but not in our “poorrakey” parliament.

    That aside, I would very much appreciate it if you would comment on the substance of the article.

    Like

  45. William Skinner December 6, 2016 at 9:52 AM #

    @ Caswell

    We always find time to beat up on our public
    servants but refuse to talk about the lack
    of productivity regarding lawyers, judges, etc
    We hammer away at the clerical officers but
    turn a blind eye to all others.
    After fifty years of BLPDLP leadership , we can’t
    even reform the transport board farless the
    public service.
    Every day Inniss talking about productivity and
    getting things done quicker while the MPs
    waste time not picking.
    Look in Innis back yard. Can’t even get one
    single piece of lntegrity Legislation pass.
    And we here vex because a disgruntled MP
    use a few cuss words!

    Like

  46. Gabriel December 6, 2016 at 10:44 AM #

    My point is Maria the professional should know better and not resort to put ‘billingsgate’ type language in print.In my formative years I did not hear cuss words at primary,secondary nor tertiary for that matter.I was exposed to more than an earful in the City however where my dad, of blessed memory had a bar,restaurant and guest house.That’s where I heard of ‘gaul bline,brassbowl,nasty,indifferent,en-got-nut-way-to-live bag blind,barefoot hoes ‘n pimps.

    Like

  47. Hal Austin December 6, 2016 at 11:06 AM #

    Sirs,
    The vernacular is perfectly acceptable in every day speech. That is the wonder of the English language, a dynamic, living language, which has its relevance from the people communicating.
    Language is about being understood, and if like me you heard St Lucians talking about tu mau, mau. Even if you did not understand what it meant, you knew it was not nice. Official language is important for historical and legal reasons; but in Barbados we do not have that. We spell the American/Australian and English way; we use dates as month, day and year, instead of the traditional day, month and year. And the over-dependence on US spell checks make our English look silly quite often. There must be push back and that can only be done by the Registrar and the courts and the schools.
    All other interpretation is humbug.
    By the way, I am here listening to a great debate in the Supreme Court of the UK with Lord Pannick, arguably the best lawyer on public law in the UK, discussing the language of legislation.
    Those who draft our laws should listen.

    Like

  48. Well Well & Consequences December 6, 2016 at 12:47 PM #

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/12/06/flawed-justice/

    Why is it so difficult for the judiciary to be modernized and systems upgraded and new legislstion implemented and enforced…to finish rape cases, personal injury cases, bail hearings etc. What is the problem, the excuses given by Justice Gibson sound hollow.

    Like

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