Visiting Jamaica, Caribbean Law Class Ponders Terrorism


Three Miami Law students from Adjunct Professor David Rowe's Caribbean Law class recently visited Kingston, Jamaica, as part of an independent study project.

Niyala Harrison, Odetta Norton and Fernando Wytrykusz delivered academic papers at the Norman Manley Law School about the trial of George William Gordon (1815-1865), a Jamaican politician who was charged with high treason and sedition after an insurrection at Morant Bay. He was later executed. As to whether Gordon would have been considered a terrorist today, Professor Rowe and the students presented various points on the topic, including the application of current local and United States law to Gordon's case, according to an article about the presentations in The Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper.

In the United States, the Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has slowly eaten away at due process rights, Harrison said. Under the Act's definition, she went on, Gordon would have been considered a terrorist.

"I think the question is the extent to which the terrorist label – labeling somebody as a terrorist – justifies procedural due-process infringements," Harrison said to the gathering, which included the principal of Norman Manley Law School, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, who is Jamaica's ambassador-designate to the U.S.

The three students began the visit at Port Royal, a town famous for the grave of a French merchant named Lewis Galdy, who was buried alive in a 1692 earthquake, then shot out like a bottle cork by the force of a subsequent shock; he was rescued later at sea. The students also visited the Giddy House at Fort Charles and delved further into Jamaica's history. In addition, the group met with Rosemarie Green, a human-rights advocate and founder of an organization called Spanish Town Citizens Against Gun Violence.

They met with Ambassador Arnold Foote of the Jamaica Consular Corps at a diplomatic reception, and visited Jamaica's historic Gun Court, where they observed a trial. Professor Rowe and the students took to the hills to see Newcastle, a military settlement in the Blue Mountains. The trip finished with a sojourn at a former sugar plantation, Milk River, famous for its natural mineral waters.