African People’s Socialist Party-Bahamas speaks at Civil Rights Forum

 
NASSAU, The BahamasA free lecture series on an “Examination of the Bahamian Constitution” has been taking place at Palmdale Primary School on New Providence, Bahamas since April 28.
 
Ms. Sheleta Collie, a community organizer and labor advocate, is spearheading the series.
 
Collie said that the purpose of the lecture series is to help ordinary citizens to better understand the constitution, and to empower them.
 
The presenters have included: Rodney Moncur, a Justice of the Peace; Stephen Aranha, a professor from the College of The Bahamas; and Erin Ferguson of Citizen’s Review, a popular television show.
 
The speakers gave presentations on topics such as: ‘The Importance of the Bahamian Constitution’, ‘Who is a Bahamian?’ and ‘An Examination of the Bahamian Government and Political System’.
 
On May 12, Alex Morley of the African People’s Socialist Party-Bahamas spoke on the topic “Do You Know Your Civil Rights?”
 
Morley is the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party-Bahamas and the Caribbean Representative for the African Socialist International. He is also an attorney in Nassau, mainly practicing in the areas of criminal and land law.
 
Morley said that even though there are eloquent legal words in the Bahamian constitution there is a profound disconnect between these eloquent legal words and reality.
 
For example, he said that in the constitution there is a provision that states that "any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed as soon as is reasonably practicable, in a language that he understands, of the reason for his arrest or detention and shall be permitted, at his own expense, to retain and instruct without delay a legal representative of his own choice and to hold private communication with him."
 
Morley stated, “Theoretically this means that every person should be able to have access to a lawyer. But we all know that this is not the reality. If you are locked up in a cell how are you supposed to get in contact with a lawyer? The law does not say that police have to provide you with a phone call, and most of the time your access to a phone call comes down to whether the cop who is dealing with your case feels like it.
 
Then on top of that even if you are allowed a phone call, most people do not have the resources to pay for a lawyer."
 
He also stated that most of the people who end up before the criminal justice process are those who make up the numbers of unemployed youth (30.8 percent) and those families living on less than US$5,000 a year; people from working class communities.
 
He said that it sounds great to say that the constitution provides everyone with access to a lawyer, but we know that the reality is that under this social system called capitalism, money runs things and if you don’t have any money those eloquent legal words mean nothing.
 
Referring to the marginalization of Africans from Haiti in The Bahamas, Morley stated working class communities are comprised of thousands of young men and women in this country who were born here and whose parents have given their labor to this country yet they are denied automatic citizenship by the constitution.
 
Morley further stated that the people who constantly come in contact with the criminal justice process are the poor, the exploited, and the marginalized–the African working class.
 
Morley said that African people must recognize that law is truly only the opinion of the ruling class and that there is a difference in how the law operates for the rich and how it operates for the poor.
 
Recently, Morley said, CARICOM has appointed a National Reparations Commission to consider a legal case for reparations against Europe for the genocide, enslavement and colonization of the indigenous and African people in the Caribbean.
 
He said that reparations for African people is one of the struggles that the Party has been involved in and that the African People’s Socialist Party demands that the U.S. and the international European ruling class and states pay Africa and African people for the centuries of genocide, oppression, and enslavement of our people.   
 
He said that a real reparations movement can help African people come to terms with the real foundation of this society and it can help us to map out the kind of society we want to build.
 
Morley reminded the audience of the 1804 Haitian Revolution and the workers General Strike of January 1958 in The Bahamas. He said that for African people, any rights that we have in this so called “New World” came as a result of struggle.
 
He urged those in attendance to join the African People’s Socialist Party and to come out to African Liberation Day on Friday, May 23 at E.P. Roberts Primary School. The theme is “Reparations and the African Nation.”
 
The free lecture series themed “Examination of the Bahamian Constitution” is being held on Monday evenings from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Palmdale Primary School and will conclude May 26, 2014.
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