JCF social media post concerns lawyers
Two of Jamaica's top attorneys, Christopher Townsend and Peter Champagnie, yesterday raised strong objection to the language used by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in a social media post about a wanted man.
The post read: "Meet [man's name], he hasn't been a good person. He is wanted for murder. He is a criminal who should be locked up." The post, which was part of the JCF's Wanted Wednesdays campaign, said that the man should be "flush out".
However, Townsend found the JCF's post to be prejudicial and "wrong".
"The JCF's mandate is really to try and get to the criminals. But in doing so, you cannot tear down barriers that justice has set up, and the safeguards that the system has set up to ensure that innocent people are not caught up in this net that you chose to throw," Townsend said.
"It is, in fact, the police perverting the course of justice by seeking to influence the minds of judges, because in jury trials, the extract from the public, meaning the jury selected, are really judges. So you are seeking what, to influence their minds on who the person is?" the lawyer said.
He reasoned that it is unfair for the JCF to "use public opinion and crucify him".
The veteran lawyer also blamed the gatekeepers at the JCF for allowing such a post.
"What this tells me is that this is a serious indictment on the Police High Command. It means that nobody is in charge, how the hell does this thing pass?" he questioned.
Champagnie, another senior lawyer, described the post as "poor in taste".
"For the past few months, I have noted what I would term an ingenious way of the JCF seeking to get the public's assistance in terms of persons who are of interest to them, and it is something that I gather has had some kind of impact," Champagnie said.
"However, by the Jamaica Constabulary Force's own handbook and manual, one of the precepts that they are guided by is that the JCF should always keep an open mind in terms of investigation and should be impartial. So when you make an absolute statement like that, it lends itself to one saying 'Well they have concluded that he is a criminal and he should be locked up'. And the determination, in such absolute term, is a matter for the court," he said.