Today the Rastafari couple charged with not sending their children to school journeyed to court to have their judgments handed down. The parents were fighting two cases which related to their two children in their bid to home school them. One case was brought before the Court by the Ministry of Education for failing to send their children to school. The other case, based on the first, was brought by the Child Care Board in their bid to have the custody of the children taken from the parents and be made wards of the state. In the article I published last night, I spoke of the hearing of the custody case and the relentlessness of the Child Care Board to have custody removed from the parents. The judge had said yesterday that he would be making his decision today. However, this morning he indicated that he would hand down his ruling on the 13th of December. In light of what transpired yesterday in that Court, a sense of disappointment was felt by the parents, the lawyers and by The African Heritage Foundation (AHF).
After hearing this High Court decision, the family, the lawyers and other representatives made their way over to the Magistrate’s Court for the hearing of the criminal case that was brought by the Ministry of Education. Other members of the AHF and the Rastafari community came out in a show of support but were refused entry to the Court. As we stood waiting to be searched before we could enter the courtyard, it began to drizzle. Showers of blessing is what one Rastafari sistren who came in support of the family said as we cooled by the refreshing drizzles. The day was long and I, expecting to read an affidavit in Court prepared by one of the Attorneys stating the support being offered by the AHF, was not allowed in the courtroom. I was told the pockets of my pants had to be on the inside and I could not wear “jeans styled pants” with the back pockets on the outside for me to be deemed appropriately dressed to enter the courtroom. The children were also not allowed to enter the courtroom due to their ages. My role turned to one of staying with the children in the courtyard.
The day was bright and the skies clear with a beautiful shade of blue. Thunder rolled as the day progressed and the children marveled to hear the booming sounds of thunder in such beautiful weather conditions. After over three hours of waiting, the Rastafari couple, their lawyers and Ms Clarke emerged from the court with a victory in their pockets. The case had been dismissed. The prosecution wanted to have the conviction that had been handed down to the parents before rolled over to a new charge they wanted to bring as the old charges were not really charges as was pointed out by the couple’s lawyers on their last visit to the court. Andrew Pilgrim tore holes in this submission stating that trying to apply a previous conviction to a new charge was not appropriate. He stated that mere common sense should have told the prosecution that this was not the right road for them to proceed on. The Magistrate indicated that there were several issues with the Prosecutor’s case and reversed his ruling of three weeks prior, dismissing the case.
Of course this helps tremendously in determining the outcome of the custody case that will be heard in December. In reflection, one can only wonder what would have happened if legal and community assistance did not present itself. It can clearly be seen that the law was being used to frame mischief against this Rastafari family and it was justice that trumped the law to see this victory. I am of the opinion that someone should answer the question of why trumped up charges were made and how were they able to lead to the initial conviction of this couple. Surely this in itself is against the law. If it is not, it should be. This Rastafari couple was wrongfully charged and we want to know who is responsible and who should be held accountable?
The Child Care Board has asked through the judge in the High Court matter of the custody of the children that media coverage be lessened and that we take this matter out of the spotlight. Why? For the last few weeks, media coverage has informed the public and allowed the public to have an opinion on the matter and social media gave them the platform to voice their opinions. For the most part, the public is disgusted by the legal actions of the Child Care Board against this family. In Barbados we are free for the most part to speak and speak we shall. I personally think that an example should be made of the Child Care Board in this particular case. I wonder how many other families have fallen victim to the disregard the Child Care Board really demonstrates for our nation’s children. How many children have suffered from their neglect or as in this case their victimisation?
The AHF will soon be commencing their home schooling programme and the first pupils to be educated in this system will be the children of this family we have been defending. If you are interested in finding out more about this organisation’s home schooling initiative please contact the AHF at 268 7084 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you want to teach in the system, have your children be home schooled or act in any way supportive of this charity’s efforts, please contact us.
I close this article with a special word of thanks from the AHF to Mr. Douglas Trotman, Mr. Andrew Pilgrim, Mr. Ajamu Boardi and Ms. Sian Lange, the legal team representing this family. I also want to say a special personal word to thanks to Loop News, which has covered every inch of this case and demonstrated superior journalistic ability. Nation News has also done a commendable job of keeping the issue of home schooling in the public’s eye. Finally to all the members of the AHF, lift up your heads as you have done a good thing. Everyone else who continually gives support to the family, who sees them on the street and takes the time to give them words of support and takes the time to share information on social media on the case, you are deeply thanked.
Tomorrow from 7am to 6pm the AHF is going to the residence of this Rastafari family to help with some clearing of the surroundings and have a celebratory cook out. Though all that has transpired, the father of the children has not been in the best health and we are going to lend a hand with overgrown bush. If you want to come out and help, contact us for directions. Walk with whatever tools you have to work with. Weed whackers, swords, rakes, hoes, pecks, vegetables, breadfruit (anything to roast) are all needed. Bottles of water or juice will also be needed. Also, bring blankets to sit or lie on. A discussion on home schooling and plans for a holistic school will take place in the evening before we leave.