Magistrate Yaw's sentencing policies have raised eyebrows before
Stabroek News
January 20, 2002

Dear Editor,

Beverly Gonzalves beat me to it. But her views in her letter captioned "These sentences are unacceptable" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (18/01/02) are in sync with my own. I am still stunned after reading the news item, "Kingston Man fined $75,000 for two driving deaths" (12/01/02). I am sure others are too. As Ms. Gonzalves recalls it is not the first time that Magistrate Yaw's sentencing policies (or more accurately "non sentencing policies") have raised eyebrows or evoked public opprobrium.

Indeed, I recall that the Chief Justice in a previous case had asked him to justify a not dissimilar slap on the wrist in another causing death by dangerous driving case. The CJ should do so again and, in this instance, make Yaw's explanation public without much delay. Nothing less will be acceptable. Magistrate Yaw is either out of touch with public sentiment or places a cheap premium on human life or both.

I am not a lawyer, but isn't there some mechanism to permit a review of Yaw's decision and have it recommitted. Cannot the DPP appeal against what is clearly a miscarriage of justice? Must Yaw's pronouncement be the final chapter in this matter? I would like to know.

How can anyone who pleads guilty to using one of Georgetown's major public highways as a race track and taking two young lives as a result be virtually let off with a $75,000. fine. And this at a time when there is justifiable public outrage and concern at the reckless use of our roads and the resultant loss of life. It boggles the imagination and defies all logic.

This decision is an affront not only to the family of the two victims, but to all Guyanese. The fact that the two deceased were from the lower rungs of the economic and social ladder should not make their lives less valuable than other citizens who might be better off materially. Conversely, the social or material status of the perpetrators should not elicit the empathy of the Court.

The media should be hounding Magistrate Yaw and demanding that he justify his action in this case. This is the stuff of which editorials are made (Kaieteur News has quite admirably already done so). Yaw should not be let off the hook this time around either by the media, his functional superiors and, importantly, John Public.

The magistracy and the judiciary are not immune from public accountability as those who sit in these exalted positions conveniently like to imply. Mothers In Black, that admirable group of sufferers, should target Magistrate Yaw and his courthouse, for he seems insulated from their pleadings and the currents which are swirling in the larger society. The Mothers should not be alone, for Magistrate Yaw should be made to feel the full force of our collective anger and resentment.

Yours faithfully,

Kester Alves