August 7, 2017
Allow me please to respond to the headline story by Micah Goodin that appeared in your Friday, August 4th edition of Amandala.
The Jamaican Full Court (Three Judges) did indeed rule that the University of the West Indies breached Professor Brendan Bain’s constitutional right to freedom of expression. However, the order of payment was for Jamaican $ 4.2 million and not $ 4.7 million as reported. This sum is significantly different, Jamaican $500,000, since the Jamaican dollar is $127 to US $1. He was thus awarded about US $33,000.
He was NOT awarded this sum as compensation for unlawful termination, but for three months salary in lieu for notice. The court only made a Declaration as to his constitutional right without more. And my opinion is that Professor Bain’s is not much of a win at all. Of the twelve reliefs he sought, the Court granted only one. He had sought further declarations, including claiming that UWI had breached his right to freedom of thought and that his character had been defamed, and he sought aggravated, vindicatory and other damages, none of which were granted. The Court ruled that UWI had not defamed his character, and it awarded him only 20% of his court costs.
The 137 page ruling includes a full and comprehensive chronology of the events that led to his termination. It makes fascinating reading, and shows to my mind how unfortunately Dr. Bain conducted himself. I recommend it. Dr. Bain had clearly indicated that he would leave, after it was pointed out to him that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of the people he works with and for. He later changed his mind and refused to resign. Our various views on homosexuality do differ, but I believe that the decent thing for him to have done was to resign.
I take issue with the reported statement of my colleague Audrey Matura that the promotion of the LGBT agenda in Belize and the region was done in a fashion which intimidated and sought to silence those who held opposing views. I would like for her to offer even a shred of evidence for that apparent assertion. On reading the case it appears clearly that Dr. Bain was not at all targeted.
The university even treated him with kid gloves due to the great esteem in which he was held.
The university were at pains to repeat that they completely respected Dr. Bain’s right to his views. It is Dr. Bain who placed UWI in the impossible position which led to the letter of termination. My view is that it is untrue that UWI did not show tolerance and professional respect for its scholars.
We clearly disagree, as I do not believe that Dr. Bain stood strong. Nor do I feel that the Court was not timid. The Court handed Dr. Bain an almost pyrrhic victory. The important legal outcome is that the Court ruled that as a juristic person the university could breach a person’s constitutional rights. Normally breaches of an individual’s rights are perpetrated by the state.
May I repeat that I recommend a full reading of the Court’s ruling for everyone who is interested in this case.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, SC