LALIT is publishing below the full text of last week’s important Muvman Liberasyon Fam Communiqué calling for the resignation of the President of the Commission on the Prerogative of Mercy. The reason for this call, the MLF explains, is not that Sir Victor Glover proposed the Pardon to the man convicted of rape on a minor – the MLF does not go into this. What the MLF bases its call on is the fact that, after having granted mercy to the convicted rapist, he went into a tail-spin of anti-woman comments to justify his decision. This is what the MLF finds shocking. Once someone has been convicted of rape, and once he has, in writing admitted to “viol” in a letter to the father of the girl, it is completely misplaced to then bring up issues of “consent”. It can only show misogyny. LALIT might add that it, in addition, looks like some kind of contempt-of-court by the former Chief Justice – questioning the conviction without a shred of new evidence. In LALIT, we deplore the fact that so many people, particularly menfolk, are locked up for non-violent offences, and the prisons are full of pre-trial prisoners (over 44.3% are pre-trial in 2018) and people locked up for not having the fine money, or for not paying debts, or for not paying alimony.
The people that it should be a priority for society to get out of prison fast are those locked up for property offences, especially offences related to poverty and life-style offences, like smoking a joint. All those locked up for using drugs like gandia (who make up around half of those locked up for drug offences), which was perfectly legal until the 1920s and which will no doubt be legal again by the 2020s, should be candidates for release from prison. (Of 3,698 convicts admitted to prisons in 2016, 46% were for theft, 9% for drug offences, 5% for assaults, 2% for sexual offences, and 2% for Fraud and dishonesty.*)
At its meeting held last week, the MLF “decided to call for the resignation of former Chief Justice Sir Victor Glover from the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy over which he presides. He has disgraced the office by, after granting mercy to a man sentenced for rape of a minor aged 15 years, then, when quite understandably criticized by the father of the girl, justifying his decision by saying, that “La question à poser est de savoir si la personne était consentante.” The courts have already found, with all the difficulties involved, that she was raped, i.e. did not give consent. So, what on earth is Sir Victor Glover referring to? He goes on, “Dans 95 % des cas, après l’acte, la victime se demande ce qu’elle a fait. Qu’est-ce que les gens vont dire? Elle va alors voir la police pour dire qu’elle a été violée, alors que strictement parlant, elle n’a pas été violée. Dans des cas de mineurs, parfois, c’est lorsque les parents apprennent la relation qu’ils se rendent à la police.” (L’Express, 27 October, 2018). These approximations and second-guesses are no more than signs of extreme misogyny. He must resign.
It is bad enough when, in the patriarchal society we live in, ignorant misogynists attribute prior consent to all victims of rape, but now to see an ex-Judge introduce the issue of “consent” in a case of a convicted rapist is really the bottom. And talking about a “relation” when there clearly was not one. To put Victor Glover’s remarks in an even worse light, the victim’s father has published a hand-written letter from the rapist to him, in which he confesses to rape (“viol”). (L’Express 6 Nov 2018). And then after conviction and after a confession in his own hand-writing, Glover talks of the victim having given him consent? Mr. Glover must resign. The office of President of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy is too important, and needs to maintain its integrity.
It would also be useful if the President of this important institution did not just shift the blame on to the Police and Prison authorities for “ne nous ont pas fourni les documents appropriés” without specifying what exactly he means was missing. And what difference would that have made? And, did the Commission ask for more details?
Those who called for the pardon, i.e. Cardinal Piat, Lindley Couronne of Dis-Moi and the Adventist Diocese could also explain on what basis they decided to support this particular appeal for pardon.
We support the victim who so bravely identified the man and testified. Now she would be right in feeling defamed.
We call on all women and sensible men to raise their voices.
Muvman Liberasyon Fam, 14 Nov 2018
* Crime, Justice and Security Statistics, 2016 (Police, Prosecutions, Judiciary, Prisons and Probation)