Editorial: The law at work

POSTED: 04/25/12 3:54 PM

The law is of course exactly that: the law. Judges apply the law and they don’t concern themselves with political or practical issues, like for instance a chronic lack of prison cells. When the state puts suspects behind bars, these suspects have rights. And when those rights are violated, there is a price to be paid.

This is how a suspect in sixteen armed robberies combined with the inevitable firearm possession and a suspect who had 166 kilos of marijuana in his van got the nod from our Judge of Instruction: their rights were violated, and they were free to go.

Based on the letter of the law, the judge had no other option. He has also made clear that there is only one sanction for future rights-violations: immediate release.

How does one explain to law-abiding citizens that this is how the law works? Justice Minister Duncan and Chief Prosecutor Mos agree on one thing: the price they pay for these violations is too high. That position is understandable, given the fact that only a year ago the court routinely gave suspects who’d spent too much time in a police cell a 1-month sentence reduction for every week they had been there too long.

Now the price has gone up, from sentence reduction to immediate release. The armed robber has been deported and will escape justice.

That’s not right, so the urgency to fix the situation is extreme.

� an@ �’ llowing remark: “While there is the right to freedom of press on St. Maarten it is also the responsibility of the press to express more tact in the images that they display. Adults should lead by example, especially considering that children more often than not follow what they see rather than what they are told.”

 

We think that politicians, our Prime Minister included, have to be aware that a free press is one of the cornerstones of a constitutional democracy. This does not take away the right from our PM to have her opinion about this particular picture – that’s also part of the principle of freedom of expression.

With a rare exception this newspaper does not publish graphic pictures of murder scenes or intrusive pictures of robbery and traffic accident victims. But there are times that even such pictures will pass muster, even though we know they will shock readers. An example is last year’s picture of a murder victim on the Cakehouse road who seemed to have been murdered execution style.

We have taken note of the PM’s notion that adults ought to lead by example. That statement is not only valid for newspaper editors, parents, teachers and priests – though there seem to be quite a lot of those who are unaware of this – but also for politicians.

In the meantime, the responsibility for the pictures that appear in our newspaper rests entirely on the shoulders of the author of this article, Today’s Editor-in-Chief.

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