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Judge: Legal system in T&T legitimises violence

Published: 
Monday, September 25, 2017

As he joined scores of citizens in lighting up Harris Promenade to spread the gospel of peace last week, Justice Vasheist Kokaram lamented that T&T’s legal system sanctions civilised warfare.

Kokaram, chairman of the Mediation Board of T&T, made the comment as he took part in the Rotary Club of Princes Town’s A Call for Peace commemoration of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace.

The highlight of the event, themed Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All, was a candlelight walk around San Fernando’s historic promenade.

Kokaram told the gathering crime threatens T&T’s social order to the point where it is creating a humanitarian crisis and there is a belief that to achieve peace there must be war.

“To achieve an increase in wages, there must be strikes. To achieve respect, there must be inflammatory language. To achieve better conditions of life, there must be protest. Our lives today have been conditioned on an ordered adversarial system where the dialogue for our social needs are conditioned on positioning, leveraging, rhetoric, emotionalism and individualism,” he said.

The legal system is often seen as the answer to conflict, but Kokaram said it is the force the State uses to compel people. He said the legal system legitimises violent acts such as the destruction of homes, removal of crops, laying of oil pipes in the forests and the taking of lives.

“A legal system which has been foisted on a people to resolve disputes but serves instead in most cases to exacerbate broken relationships, an adversarial system which sanctions civilised warfare between disputants, a system which has recorded physical violence for a far more insidious type of language, which is socially acceptable and socially destructive,” he said.

Rotary club president Bashir Mohammed said through their peace and conflict framework, it is possible to end violence, bullying and peer pressure. He said in the 24 years of the club’s existence, they have been working to provide food, clothing, shelter and medicine to people in need.