‘Bring back cat o’nine’ - New JTA boss wants to see paedophiles, careless drivers whipped into line
If the newly installed president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, were to have his way, convicted paedophiles would be routinely flogged with the once-feared cat o’ nine, which was outlawed several years ago.
“Paedophiles should not only be sent to prison, but they should receive lashes of the cat o’ nine when going in and should also be taken out of their cells periodically and lashed,” Speid told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview at the just-concluded annual JTA conference in Montego Bay, St James.
While noting that corporal punishment has been outlawed in schools, Speid sees nothing wrong with it being used in the penal system against paedophiles.
“They should not just be taken out of the system and sent to prison, where they eat and get fat, and in some cases, run criminal activities from within. The scars they leave on the youngsters are worse than if they had been flogged,” added Speid.
He said that if any paedophiles were found in the education system, the JTA will distance itself from that person and allow the law to take its course.
“The JTA will not be defending any paedophile. The process of removing them from the system must be followed,” said Speid.
“It is my personal opinion that persons like these (sex offenders) should receive lashes of the cat o’ nine,” the JTA president said.
The cat o’ nine is a type of multitailed whip that originated as an implement for severe physical punishment. A whip that was one of the disciplinary tools of choice in the 18th century, it was constructed of strands of heavy cords with knots along the length and at each end.
But paedophiles weren’t the only ones Speid lined up for a few lashes. He said that reckless drivers should also have a date with the cat o’ nine.
“I would also recommend that those drivers on the road who use their vehicles as missiles and destroy people’s lives be subjected to lashes of the cat o’ nine also,”
A retired principal, who did not wish to be named, said that while he supports the removal of paedophiles from the education system, he would not support using the cat o’ nine to flog convicts.
“They should be removed from the system and not be employed in education ever. However, I believe that flogging is a violent response, which is not necessary,” the retiree said.
In 2012, Justice Minister Mark Golding indicated that the Government would be removing the slavery-era laws as pressure mounted from human-rights bodies and international development partners, who claim that the country is contravening the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
The announcement was welcomed by human-rights activists, who view flogging as a barbaric throwback in a nation populated mostly by the descendants of slaves.
“We don’t really see that [the flogging law] has any part in the approach of dealing with crime in a modern democracy,” human-rights campaigner Susan Goffe said then.
Several crime-weary Jamaicans believed that the Government should not have dropped the statute but enforce it, arguing that thieves who preyed on farms or violent criminals who harm innocent people should receive a whipping to teach them a lesson.
The last person to suffer the punishment in Jamaica was Errol Pryce, who was sentenced to four years in prison and six lashes in 1994 for stabbing his mother-in-law.
Pryce was flogged the day before being released from prison in 1997 and later complained to the UN Human Rights Committee, which ruled in 2004 that the form of corporal punishment was cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and violated his rights.
Jamaican courts then stopped ordering flogging.