by Caribupdate Weekly
In every country, the overwhelming majority of lawyers ply their trade and eke out a living by either putting people in jail – as prosecutors – or by keeping people out of jail – as defence attorneys or by litigating a case, or representing a client, in one kind of matter or another.
Jerry Edwin is a Grenadian attorney and member of the local bar. However, unlike most other lawyers in our nation, attorney Edwin appears to be doing some extra lifting. A lot of Grenadians would have heard his name, or seen Edwin on television about 2 months ago, when he raised a stink – rightly, in our humble opinion – about a planned ‘re-enactment of slavery’ on River Antoine Estate in St Patrick, as part of this year’s Heritage Month.
The ‘re-enactment’ went ahead as scheduled. Edwin staged a one-man protest again it and, in the process, he was arrested by police. The enslavement of Africans, in which millions lost their lives, was unquestionably an act of genocide. And, in his protest, Edwin was adamant that genocide never, ever is ‘re-enacted.’ As he puts it, ‘the victims do not imitate the tragedy. Slavery was not an event. This was a crime against humanity.’
Now, Edwin has taken up another cause. He says he was in shock to discover that flogging – punishment ostensibly formulated by our former slave and colonial rulers to beat good sense and civility into ‘native’ black boys and men – is still allowed under Grenada laws; and flogging is routinely ordered by magistrates and happily carried out at police stations by RGPF cops.
“It’s a discriminatory law. But it’s aggravated by the fact that it’s the poor that suffer this inhumane and barbaric treatment,’’ Edwin says. “If you steal tens of thousands of dollars, you get to pay a fine. If you steal 2 coconuts, you get flogged. There is something very morally repugnant about this – not just the practice, but the fact that it’s meted out so unfairly to the poor.’’
Edwin is on a campaign to have flogging abolished as a form of punishment in Grenada; a constitutional to effect the required change is said to have already been drafted. We, at Caribupdate Weekly, endorse and support Edwin’s campaign.
We are watching closely to see if others would do likewise and back the effort to have Grenada rid itself of this – and all other – archaic slave laws. We’ll be monitoring the response to Edwin’s campaign from organisations like the Grenada Bar Association; labour groups and the Grenada Trades’ Union Council; the Conference of Churches Grenada; and the Grenada National Organisation of Women, which is always lobbying the nation to join GNOW in its mission to stop abuse against women and children. This newspaper contends that abuse is abuse and must stop; whether it’s against women, children, boys or men; or whether it’s carried out by individuals in their homes or by the state through the court of law.
Caribupdate Weekly also would like the political parties to state publicly their position on flogging as a state-sanctioned form of punishment in 2017 Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. In fact, we suggest that Grenadians should make it an election issue as the political parties begin canvassing for votes in the next national polls.