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Dismissed

Rastafarian couple in homeschooling case walks free

The case against a Rastafarian couple who had been found guilty of failing to send their children to school took a dramatic twist today when Magistrate Douglas Frederick allowed them to walk free.

Charles Ijui Jah Lashley and his partner Kim Isartes Ibre Jackman reported to the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court today to be sentenced, after they were found guilty last month of violating Section 41 Clause (b) of the Education Act, Chapter 41 on the grounds that there was no record of the children  — a boy and a girl both under the age of 12 — ever attending formal classes.

Charles Ijui Jah Lashley and his partner Kim Isartes Ibre Jackman, posing with their children outside the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court today.

Charles Ijui Jah Lashley and his partner Kim Isartes Ibre Jackman, posing with their children outside the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court today.

Instead, a request by the prosecution to add the dates “between 1st day of September, 2008 and 5th day of February, 2016,” in the case of the boy and “between the 1st day of September, 2011 and 5th of February, 2016,” in the case of the girl, to the offences led to the magistrate throwing out the case.

The request was met with consternation by the couple’s lead attorney Andrew Pilgrim, QC, who, despite the protestations of prosecutor Sergeant Neville Watson, argued it was a new charge altogether and should be dismissed.

“At this stage I am flabbergasted by this application . . . . As I understand it the Crown was happy to run a prosecution against accused persons with a charge that did not even have a date  . . . and now they are happy to change their charge sheet I assume, to match the evidence that you [the magistrate] heard. This is a whole new charge,” Pilgrim told the magistrate.

The senior attorney-at-law described the submission as “primary school nonsense and absolute garbage,” on the grounds that the prosecution was creating an offence against his clients spanning an eight-year period in relation to a 12-year-old child.

“These are truly unique circumstances. These people are already found guilty . . . he is changing the dates . . . [saying] to the court and to the public . . . there can be no injustice flowing from this? Well, what a dark day we have reached  . . .  .We are saying that multiple prejudices can occur [with this amendment],” the lawyer said.

After considering the submissions the magistrate agreed with some of the arguments of the defence, stressing the issue was about the children and that the parents had not kept them home “due to any malice”.

“When we heard all the evidence, these two people did not fail to register their children in a school . . . due to any malice. There is no evidence of that. In fact, they have some philosophical belief that the system will contaminate their children, so they have withheld them from that school environment,” the magistrate explained before dismissing the case.

The smiling parents later exited No. 1 Court with Lashley telling the media that justice had prevailed.

“Praises be to Rastarfari Jah Holy faith, for Jah continuous guidance, oversight and protection of his children,” Lashley said, adding that he would be making formal application for the children to be homeschooled.

One of their lawyers, Ajamu Boardi also told Barbados TODAY the family was elated with the verdict.

“I think it is a just result. I don’t think there was really ever a charge there, so I think it is great that the court recognize that.”

Despite today’s verdict, the parents continue to face the possibility of having their children taken from them.

The High Court will on December 13 decide whether it will hear a case brought by the Child Care Board (CCB), which is seeking to make the children wards of the court.

The children’s attorney Douglas Trotman said he was hopeful that the judge would rule in the parents’ favour.

Similar feelings were expressed by supporters of the couple who have considered the entire episode unnecessary.

Noted calypsonian and Rastafarian Adonijah has been among the couple’s most vocal supporters, making his position on the case known on social media.

The veteran artiste told Barbados TODAY he was pleased with today’s outcome and he was looking forward to a similar result next month in “this ridiculous case” by the Child Care Board. 

“I cannot for the life of me understand why the Child Care Board would have been seeking to separate a family where there isn’t even the slightest bit of suspicion of abuse or ill treatment. The only issue is an educational one which is being worked out,” he said, describing the CCB’s intervention as “ an unjustifiable attempt to rip some innocent children from the bosoms of a loving family”.

Another prominent supporter, Executive Director of the Pinelands Creative Workshop Rodney Grant, was relieved when he got news of the dismissal. Still, the pending hearing worried him. 

“The only thing that they would find disfavour with is the fact that they kept the child home and schooled in the house,” Grant argued.

The social activist contended that while the focus should be on mending families, the child protection agency was seeking to tear this one apart.

“You are moving a child away from a situation where they seemingly have all the moral standards . . . to put them into what? Out there in a society where we seem to be losing the battle with?”

Grant also recommended that the CCB should work with the family in search of a more amicable solution.

“We got to look for more reasonable solutions, rather than being so extreme,” he concluded.

fernellawedderburn@barbadostoday.bb

katrinaking@barbadostoday.bb

6 Responses to Dismissed

  1. Janari October 29, 2016 at 9:18 am

    How come the Child Care Board want to remove these children from their parents, under the pretext of the children not being formally educated in a school but failed to investigate or remove Jahan King and Shermar Weekes from their abusive situations? We all know the end results!

    Reply
  2. CHARLES S. CADOGAN SR October 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I am truly very happy for that family and hope that all the other charges will also be dropped. With all, that’s going on in Barbados, I find it very disturbing that the Government can spend money on fighting to take away two children from their parents because they aren’t a part of the school system. I can see if the children were being abused in any way. But with no evidence of abuse or mistreatment of any kind, the Government needs to deal with other pressing issues that really needs their attention;

    Reply
  3. Jennifer October 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    All praises to the most high for this family and their deliverance from man’s law. This family looks great = no broken home. Dressing nice. Some of the most richest men either left school early or did not go at all. Why do many people in Barbados send their children to private school?????? Maybe it is because they think the main stream school education is lacking and that the “other” children will corrupt their children in some way. However, living in this society today the powers that be has set up their various systems in order for anyone to function/survive. Just being servants for their masters. I pray for the deliverance of Yah’s people soon out of this modern day Egypt. The letter J was not invented until about 500yrs ago. So it cannot be JAH.

    Reply
  4. RASTAFARI October 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    PRAISES TO THE MOST HIGH JAH RASTAFARI FOR GUIDING AND PROTECTING THIS FAMILY THROUGHOUT THIS ORDEAL WHICH I KNOW WAS NOT NECESSARY. THESE CHILDREN ARE BRIGHT AND MOST OF ALL THEY’RE WELL TAKEN CARE OF BY THEIR PARENTS,CAN YOU TELL ME WHY ON GOD ALMIGHTY EARTH THE CCB WANTS TO BREAK THIS FAMILY DOWN,WE NEED EQUAL RIGHTS AND JUSTICE NOT FOR SOME BUT FOR ALL.

    PEOPLE ONLY KNOWS HOW OTHER PEOPLE FEEL WHEN THEY HAVE ON THE SHOE, INSTEAD OF BREAKING THE FAMILY APART,LETS COMMEND THE PARENTS FOR DOING SUCH A WONDERFUL JOB RAISING THEIR CHILDREN.

    Reply
  5. Coralita October 29, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Private schools do not protect children from corruption so I don’t get the statement, even in private schools children are exposed to all manner of things. Homeschooling is more likely to protect children from the vices of others for a time, which is what this couple wants for their children.

    However, you cannot protect children forever, you need to raise them with morals, values, and standards. Teach them to be industrious, respectful and teach them to be street smart and hope that even when they make mistakes which they will do, that the outcomes won’t be disastrous but be more of a learning experience.

    Every last country on this planet has laws and systems. When those laws and systems are working for us we praise them but when they appear to be working against us we curse them.

    Reply
  6. Sheron Inniss October 30, 2016 at 7:27 am

    I am happy for the family and I hope the Chilld Care Board’s case fails.

    Reply

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