By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Several human rights activist on Monday (February 17) lobbied the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) where a sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is being held over what they say was the draconian sentencing of a 19 – year – old babysitter.
Fatima Martin, who is an Amerindian and hails from Lethem, Region Nine was sent to prison for 60 months by Magistrate Sueanna Lovell for assaulting a one year- old child who was left in her care.
According to the activists who are drawn from several organizations, including the Amerindian People’s Association, the Guyana Women Miners Organization, Red Thread and the Help and Shelter said all violence against children is wrong and should be outlawed.
However, they remain struck by both the speed at which the matter was concluded by the police and the Court and more so by the sentencing which is apparently the maximum penalty under the laws of Guyana.
President of the Guyana Women Miners Organization Simona Broomes who was part of the protest told iNews that her Organization is surprised with the interest the case has attracted.
“We have a woman in the Bartica Magistrates’ Court who has been charged with five counts of trafficking children and the Magistrate force the Prosecutor to close the file for evidence,” Brooms said, adding that “ it’s a sad situation, we think it is something that should be reviewed, we have additional information which we will address.”
Meanwhile, Administrator for the Amerindian Peoples Association Jean La Rose said they will be looking to see if the woman was well represented and if due process took its course, since from all indications the speed at which the case was tried seems unusual.
She said the Association will be investigating the matter since they feel that the maximum penalty should not have been meted out to the young woman. “Very often our young men and women are taken out of interior communities and are paid very little and no recourse to go back home or send money and are unaware of conditions under which they are employ because there are no contracts,” she added.
“Something is definite wrong here, we are calling on the Chancellor and judicial system to investigate the sentencing policy of magistrates, this is really striking… we are not prepared to accept this action,” another activist said.
According to reports, the Court was told that Martin was hired by the child’s parents who both happen to be Attorneys – at – Law (one a serving Magistrate) to take care of her while they were busy at work.
According to the grouping, “Magistrate Lovell must reconsider her solidarity with her fellow members of the bar and remember that justice must be blind to status and connections.”
They are calling for the reversal of what they say was an inhumane, unreasonable, unbalanced and clearly bias sentencing.