KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck says that the government is already taking steps to expunge the local criminal record of Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Garvey.
Chuck was responding in the House of Representatives yesterday, to a question tabled previously by Opposition Member of Parliament Ronald Thwaites, asking whether Garvey had a criminal record in Jamaica and whether it would be expunged.
He noted that in 1984, Garvey was given a royal pardon by the then governor general, at the request of then Prime Minister Edward Seaga. However, this pardon, under section 91 of the Constitution, affects only the sentence and not the conviction.
“As a result, Garvey would still have a criminal record in Jamaica. As such, a statutory pardon is required,” Chuck said.
Garvey was charged with contempt of court in September, 1929, after criticizing the state of Jamaica’s legal system, which he saw as “oppressive,” and called for laws to punish judges who were unfair, Chuck recalled.
He also noted that the Black nationalist leader and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was charged with contempt, tried, convicted, and sentenced to three months imprisonment and a 100 pound sterling fine. He was detained at the St. Catherine District Prison in September, 1929 and released in December.
Garvey’s remains were brought back to Jamaica, and he was named Jamaica’s first national hero after being posthumously conferred with the Order of the National Hero in 1969 at the insistence of Seaga, who was then minister of finance in Prime Minister Hugh Shearer’s Cabinet.
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