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JAMAICA | Supreme Court Ruling on dreadlocked school girl shocks Jamaicans

  • Written by Wiredja News Desk
  • Published in Justice
Featured JAMAICA |  Supreme Court Ruling on dreadlocked school girl shocks Jamaicans
KINGSTON, Jamaica August 1, 2020 - Jamaicans of all stripes are this Emancipation Day, questioning the reasoning of the local Supreme Court, which yesterday ruled that the constitutional rights of a five-year-old girl were not breached in 2018 when she was denied access to the Kensington Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine because of her dreadlocked hair.

Social media is awashed with condemnation of the ruling, which they say, was a national disgrace, that on the eve of the 186th anniversary of Jamaica's emancipation from slavery, such a verdict runs counter to our national experience, where our governments continue to use rastafarianism and its attendant occutrements to sell Jamaica to the world, while Rastafarian children, by law, cannot attend school wearing their locks.

Attorney Isat Buchanan who represents the family of the child who was barred from attending school with dreadlocks says they will be appealing Friday's court ruling that the school's actions were not unconstitutional.

The child’s mother, Sherine Virgo, insists that she will not cut her daughter's hair despite the ruling of the court.

The injunction was filed on behalf of the parents of the child, who were given an ultimatum by the school that their daughter had until August 29, 2018 to remove her locks to enter grade one in September in keeping with the school's policy.

According to reports, reports the five-year-old child was initially accepted to the Kensington Primary School in St. Catherine, but later told that her locks would have to be cut.

The child's family filed a claim in 2018 arguing that the school's policy against the hairstyle was in breach of her constitutional rights.

Buchannan says  he is hurt about the ruling on the eve on Emancipation Day:"It's a sad day for black people on the eve of Emancipation. As a dreadlocks wearing, a Rastafarian, I can say to you that I'm most hurt for black identity, expression of blackness and I will look forward to the written judgment to see how it is that they came to that decision. And certainly, my instructions from the family now is to appeal whatever judgment comes, and certainly, we fight the good fight," he declared. 

Mr. Buchanan says "The family is left to ask permission from the school that the child remain and if the school is so minded, in all their grace and power and might to allow the little black girl to keep her dreadlocks and not bring lice and 'junjo' and these things within the precincts of the school. The school has the power, that's basically the judgment," he lamented. 

The child's father, Dale Virgo is very disappointed by the ruling: "This was an opportunity by the Jamaican courts to right the wrongs, you know; to speak against systemic racism, which we have been experiencing in the form of hair. A child shouldn't be refused just because of hair. There shouldn't be any form of discrimination," he bemoaned. "But we still have faith and we'll continue to fight because, look at the world stage right now in 2020. Black lives matter and everywhere people are declaring that."

The human-rights group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) challenged the school's position on the basis that enforcement of the rule would violate constitutionally protected human rights of the child and her family and that no other remedy existed to prevent the threat of that violation, given the school's demand.

In its decision, the three-member panel ruled that the declarations sought would not be granted as the father had no legal standing to bring the action and that the constitutional right of the young girl has not been violated.

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Last modified onSaturday, 01 August 2020 15:45
  • Countries: Jamaica