The Reverend Mr. Monk was convicted, imprisoned and fined in 1903 for publishing an article in the press on the living and working conditions of Jamaican nationals employed to work at the dockyard in Bermuda.
An account of the Reverend Monk’s trial was given in the book ‘Freedom Fighters’ by the late Ira Philip.
Governor John Rankin said, “Posthumous pardons are only granted in the most exceptional of cases. After careful consideration, I am satisfied however that in exercising his freedom of expression, the Reverend Mr. Monk was seeking to serve the public interest.
That fact, together with the likely truth of what he wrote and the evident procedural irregularities in the trial, justify the grant of a pardon in this instance.
“This is an historical case and we can recognise today that the act for which the Reverend Mr. Monk was convicted was an act of courage in drawing attention to the unacceptable working conditions to which the Jamaican nationals in Bermuda were being subjected.
Today is an opportunity to acknowledge Reverend Monk’s work in seeking to remove an injustice which was then taking place.”
Mr Monk was imprisoned for libel in 1903 after he exposed poor conditions endured by people brought to the island to work on the Royal Naval Dockyard.
The pardon came after David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly in June last year that he had asked the Governor to consult the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy about the possibility of a pardon for the pastor and journalist.
Mr Burt last night said the pardon was a “significant and historic decision”.
He said: “The injustice of Mr Monk’s trial and the actual injustice he was determined to expose make this decision a landmark recognition of the importance of the rights of workers and of a free, responsible media.
“Today, the legacy of a tireless journalist shines even brighter. The late Ira Philip recorded this story and his work has been proven invaluable.”
The power to grant a pardon is delegated to the Governor under Section 22 of the Constitution following consultation with the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.
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