Outspoken attorney-at-law, Anslem Clouden has criticised what he describes as barbaric and brutal forms of punishment handed down to traffic offenders by Magistrate Jerry Seales who presides over the (Traffic Court) known as Magistrate Court Number 3 in St. George’s.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY last week Wednesday, Clouden expressed the view that the frequent ordering of strokes for trivial breaches of the law by Magistrate Seales is underwritten by the 1958 criminal code and the 1974 Constitution, which is currently under review.
“Flogging is a cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of punishment and people should not be subjected to that kind of treatment in our courts of law in the 21st century,” he said.
“It is physiologically distasteful. It speaks to our cruel subjugation and humiliation during slavery, where slaves were subjected to barbaric and brutal flogging by master,” he added.
According to Clouden, it “is engrained in our physique that if you want to mentally debilitate someone you flog them.”The city barrister also holds the view that flogging should be completely removed from Grenada’s punishment list and that it is still being instituted on the island because no one has dared to challenge it.
“It’s about time we amend it (the Constitution) because in all Commonwealth countries including Canada and Australia, that penalty (flogging) cannot be administered (because) the Constitution outlawed it …”, he remarked.
“The 1974 Constitution speaks of cruel and unusual and inhuman treatment to punishment…my contention is that flogging falls in that category, as being unusual,” he said.
Clouden’s contention correlates with a letter obtained by this newspaper on the issue that was written by retired journalist, Stanley Charles.
In his letter, Charles points to “violence in the law” referencing an article written by a young Grenadian Attorney-at-Law, Sheba Augustine, who wrote about one instance in which an offender Paul Chetram, was sentenced to flogging after being found guilty of disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer.
Charles recalled that Augustine was “angry and outraged” that flogging is viewed as an appropriate response by the judicial system.
Charles wrote that there is a level of revulsion amongst some lawyers, Human Rights Activists and other professionals since they view flogging as “a throwback to slavery”.
He quoted Augustine as saying that her initial response to Seales’ action was extremely emotional, I felt angry and outraged but most of all I felt disappointed”.
Charles went on to say: “Ms. Augustine wondered “how at this time of widespread awareness of the importance of Human Rights can we still hold to the idea that physical violence is an appropriate response by our judicial system to the perpetration of crimes…..”
There is more than a little irony to Mr. Seales pointing to the Criminal Code 1958 and the Government’s deafening silence on flogging Grenadians. Silence is not without its consequences”.