The recent arrest of Ruel Reid, former Minister of Education and Government Senator, and his co-accused has created dramatic waves in the media and society at large.
It made for good public debate and excitement along with political fodder and circus trappings. It is clear, if evidence in the public domain is to be believed, that Reid has at least found himself in a rather untidy situation. Notwithstanding, there seems to be an element of questionable actions on the part of the security divisions responsible for the early morning raid on his premises and his subsequent overnight stay in jail. The average man will rejoice that what obtains for him has been cast upon another of public office and standing, and possibly there might be much justification for that sentiment.
However, if we look at the reality of the Bail Act and the way it is supposed to function for all who ‘qualify’, it begs the question of how and why they were treated in the way they were, specifically given detention. It is reasonable to state that none of the accused were in the past known to be flight risks, fugitives, or difficult to locate. Add to that the fact that the investigation has been ongoing and did not catch them utterly by surprise. In that case, one would imagine that after raid and arrest, it was expected they would’ve been granted bail (commonly called “station bail”) with an expected appearance before the judge the next day. That was not the case. They were locked up overnight and taken before a judge the next day, and it appears that was mainly done to appease a public feeling that the “big man” suffered the same indignity and humiliation of the average man.
It is not that a man like Reid is more deserving of fair treatment than the average man or that the failure of the system to treat the average man fairly. It is more about the ability of law and justice to seemingly compromise the rights of a citizen simply to play to the gallery. This is especially so since it was understood that upon appearance in front of the judge, the famous line about “incomplete file” seemed to surface. There are still questions about whether or not items not listed on a warrant were seized from some of the accused, but that only adds more questions. The Director of Public Prosecutions had months before claimed various ingredients were missing for a fully successful judgment to be arrived at and subsequently, the strength of the cases are still not yet known. Add to that the expressed desire to have private counsel hired to prosecute instead of the DPP’s office. Many might not realise the immediate possibility of skyrocketing costs to deal with the matters. Of course we would also ask what is meant to be achieved by now sidestepping the DPP who was the main point of reference prior.
Whatever the outcome, one of the most glaring things that need to be addressed across the board is how easily people can be denied their right to bail when they meet all the requirements under the act. It also creates a scenario where we must consider how the law can appear to be manifestly fair if it is clouded in the circus of public sentiment and not an exclusive focus paid to justice for one..and justice for all. Let’s Face It.