Columns

The law must be fair and just

Thursday, January 03, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

For a democratic society to function based on the rule of law, law-abiding citizens must agree to obey the law.

But the law must be seen to be fair and just. Now most Jamaicans will obey the law, but it seems that most motorists will scoff at traffic offences, based on the huge crowds that have gathered to pay outstanding fines.

Only a few months ago a number of prominent citizens were uncovered allegedly in collusion not to pay a fine for a simple traffic misdemeanour. Many of us questioned the rationale, as the person concerned could easily afford the cost of the ticket. Then why go through all that trouble to avoid paying it? The answer is simple: Traffic offences are not looked upon as criminality. Drivers don't see a traffic offence as breaking the law in any consequential way, coupled with the fact that we are forced to pay a tax on parts damaged while driving on pot-holed roads, insurance, fitness, and licences of all sorts.

The poor Jamaican motorists are overburdened. Now we are being threatened with being locked up for offences we deem unfair and unjust. The thousands of normally law-abiding citizens we see on the television jostling to pay fines that date back several years are not convinced that routine traffic offences are serious. Not only does the system reek of inefficiency, but many of the charges seem to be trumped up.

Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, who seems to have a future in stand-up comedy, and Minister Peter Bunting may well have to build more jails to house the number of Jamaicans across all classes who refuse to pay traffic fines. Where will the State find the resources to put all of us — lottery scammers, drug dealers, cow thieves, murderers, motorists, children etc? Without the co-operation of all law-abiding citizens, the state will descend into chaos.

Mark Clarke

Siloah, St Elizabeth

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