Black Immigrant Daily News
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is questioning the increasing use of the term ‘violence producers’, and has reminded that it is a court, through a trial, that determines whether an individual is a criminal, through a conviction.
Sykes made the declaration on Friday as he urged newly appointed Supreme Court judges and masters-in-chambers at a ceremony, to have “courage to decide cases against popular sentiments” locally, and amid criticisms in a high-crime environment like Jamaica.
The term ‘violence producers’ was used by Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, on Tuesday, December 6, when he revealed during a press briefing to declare states of emergency (SOEs), that over 300 such persons are on the radar of the police locally.
He further said that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has prepared intelligence packages, and is actively building cases against the ‘violence producers’.
But Sykes said that it is “the criminal law that determines whether a crime has been committed, and it is a court that determines whether a person should be branded a criminal at the end of the trial process, and assuming that there is a conviction.”
As such, he pointed out that “we have a number of terms being used now, such as violence producers.
“We don’t know who those are. Is it defined? How do we get to these expressions?” asked the island’s chief jurist.
“… And the expectations seem to be that once a particular arm of the executive defines them as such, then that is supposed to be accepted without question by the judiciary.
“Just to say that has never been so, and can’t be so,” declared Sykes.
He stressed that a criminal trial is aimed at “finding out whether the person has been guilty of the crime with which he or she is charged; not whether the person is a criminal in general.
“A trial is not a commission of enquiry; it is a very specific process to determine whether the prosecution has proved the case against the defendant. It is not about the defendant proving his innocence,” Sykes further declared.
Watch the video below to also hear Chief Justice Bryan Sykes’ take on other issues, such as the importance of democracy, the threat to democracy, the common-law, and the constitution.