Sentence delayed

New date set for Rastafarian parents to know their fate

Just over two-dozen members of the Rastafarian community gathered outside the precincts of the District ‘A” Magistrates Court today in a show of solidarity with the Rastafarian parents who were due to be sentenced after they were convicted of failing to send their children to school.   

The two were found guilty on September 24 of breaching 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 ten — ever attending formal classes.

Attorneys Andrew Pilgrim, QC, (left) Ajamu Boardi (second from left), and Sian Lange (foreground) leaving the courthouse with their Rastafarian clients.
Attorneys Andrew Pilgrim, QC, (left) Ajamu Boardi (second from left), and Sian Lange (foreground) leaving the courthouse with their Rastafarian clients.

However, the group attracted the attention of the police – six of whom were on location – who advised them that they had gathered illegally because they not sought permission from the Commissioner of Police to hold a protest, march or gathering in a public place.

However, Rastafarians were adamant they were not protesting but “silently supporting” the couple.

“We feel that this was necessary to show the public that we are still here, we are still in support of the family, they are still not alone and we are not going to go away with the issue. So the family has that kind of support,” President of the African Heritage Foundation Paul Simba Rock told the media.

Rock said the community was hoping the magistrate would overturn the guilty verdict because, “we do not want the family to end up with a conviction.”

“So we don’t want a fine, certainly we don’t want imprisonment and we don’t want a CRD [conviction, reprimand and discharged]. What we are hoping for is an overturn of the guilty decision,” he said, adding that a conviction would not help the parents who had a custody case pending in the High Court.

The Rastafarian parents arrived around 11:30 a.m. with their children in tow, and were greeted with hugs and smiles from their supporters, before proceeding to the security gate.

Twelve supporters attempted to accompany them to the courtroom, but the guards stopped them, advising that only one person was allowed in with the couple.

That did not go down well with the grouping, which demanded a reason, and moments later, seven of them were given the green light to enter the No. 1 District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court presided over by Magistrate Douglas Frederick.

However, sentencing was delayed by another three weeks as the parents, now represented by attorneys-at-law Andrew Pilgrim, QC; Douglas Trotman; Sian Lange and Ajamu Boardi questioned the legitimacy of the charge before the courts.

Pilgrim argued that Section 41 of the Education Act did not create an offence, “so the crown refers to Section 61 Subsection (1) Clause (B) . . . which results in a $50 fine”.

“Was evidence led before your worship which showed that these children, were not receiving education suitable to their age and ability?” Pilgrim asked.

He questioned whether any assessment had been done on the children during the course of the Crown’s case, and accused the prosecutors of concocting an offence that did not exist legally.

“The charge as drafted is seeking to combine Section 41 and Section 61 together. If we read the charge the offence is created by failing to register the said child at a school to receive full time education suitable to their age and ability . . . the offence is non-registration of the child.

“So what the drafters of the charge have done is seek to combined the two sections and create an offence that we say does not exist in law. . . a dual offence — they did not register the children and the children are not receiving education not appropriate to their age and ability . . .  . So the charge is bad . . . it is duplicitous because it is asking you to find them guilty of two offences in one charge and it is seeking to create an offence out of a section that does not have an offence,” Pilgrim argued.

He pointed out that the complainant was the Minister of Education, and asked whether the minister had delegated that authority to a public officer in writing, arguing if he had not done so “then charge will be bad”.

The prosecutor then said that he would need time to review the case in order to respond to the attorneys.

The matter was adjourned until October 28.

11 Responses to Sentence delayed

  1. Mandy Browne
    Mandy Browne October 8, 2016 at 5:31 am

    These things happen when there is a system with so much loopholes and so the crown just tied his own hands and feet lol.

  2. seagul October 8, 2016 at 5:43 am

    The executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the Caribbean nations are twisted and controlled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. They wish us to ever remain puppets–devoid of culture. We must stand up to them because our rights are justified…Ajani-T.

  3. Ras October 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Power to the People, trump up bad charges against Rasta, children not abused, they are educated and well mannered untouched by Pedophiles, parents just poor, peaceful and polite so thee system want to try to get them under they control, but Rasta nah give up so.

  4. Hal Austin October 8, 2016 at 9:48 am

    This is a human rights issue. We have Jewish schools, Muslim, Christian, secular, Seventh Day Adventist, so why not Rasta?

    • Coralita October 8, 2016 at 10:28 am

      You people keep missing the point. Had the parents gone through the proper channels to get permission to homeschool their children there would not be an issue. They just kept the children at home and that is against the laws of Barbados once the child gets five years old. If the country allows parent the freedom to keep their children at home without governance or structure, we know full well that most of them will not be educated and will be a detriment to themselves and the society.

      I think this whole situation is being blown out of proportion. I don’t see why the ministry and the family cannot sit down and sort this out. Then again, I understand the family do not want to use the curriculum from the ministry of education. I am sure this is negatively impacting those children. I wish the best outcome for all involved.

      Hal the private schools in Barbados follow the curriculum from the ministry of education that is why these schools are able to enter their students to sit CAPE and CSEC examinations. If they didn’t follow the curriculum they would not be able to do that. Also, the outcomes from CAPE and CSEC determine entry to colleges and universities therefore there must be structure.

      All countries are governed by laws and whether we like it or not we have to abide by them or face the consequences for infractions.

  5. Bobo October 8, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Bravo Coralita—-Ref To –All countries are govern by laws –we the population have to respect and abide by these laws–

  6. Harry October 8, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you Coralita it seems that certain people seem not to understand what the issues are – perhaps after you have now explained it in simple language they will but then again………..

  7. Sherlock Holmes. October 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    I have realized that some people thrive on anything that can be considered as controversial, they just love to be heard and seen,it is as though the whole world is literally a stage for them, the constant theatrics, they just cannot separate reality from theater so the show must go on regardless of the detrimental effects.

  8. Sunshine Sunny Shine October 9, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Ok, I can’t help it, I got to say it. I am just loving the colourful rasta attire worn by the parents. And, the father at the back, just has this expression on his face of pure competence.

  9. Sheron Inniss October 9, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I feel for the Rastas. I hope they are only fined. That said put in the application at the ministry and get a copy of the curriculum. Home schooling does not disadvantage any child. Fact is they usually do better than publicly schooled children. Why not have a Rasta school? Don’t wait until the case is over; start the ground work now. The country has laws and you have to abide by them. If I had children I would home school but procedures are procedures. Qualified to home school. If you start right you may stumble, but when you start wrong you done fall.

  10. LeVere October 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Who decides what are “proper” channels laws that where originally based on making the “serfs” attained only the knowledge to provide service to the “noble elite”? Therefore know the history of why a law and not just hide behind “it’s the law”…sounds just like the one that goes “I’m just doing my job”.

    Spineless jellyfish!!!


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