Did The System Fail Jasmin Dean?

Errol Mc Leish
By Contributor Errol McLeish

Today, March 27, 2020, makes it approx­i­mate­ly 30 days since the dis­ap­pear­ance of Jasmin Dean, a 22 years old visu­al­ly impaired stu­dent at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St. Andrew, Jamaica. Since the rev­e­la­tion, there has been no word from the police or from her cap­tor or cap­tors, indi­cat­ing whether she is alive or dead. Statistics would sug­gest the lat­ter, is a like­ly pos­si­bil­i­ty, how­ev­er, I hold a con­trary view and is still opti­mistic and hope­ful, of Jasmin Dean’s return. The police have made some strides in their inves­ti­ga­tions. They have so far released an image of a per­son of inter­est, who has since giv­en him­self up and also has acquired cell phone data that pin­point­ed her last move­ment pri­or to her dis­ap­pear­ance.

A close­up of Ms. Dean

Indeed, from all indi­ca­tions, the police have been work­ing assid­u­ous­ly to locate young Dean. A senior police offi­cer, in a press brief­ing, was quick to point out that the immense inter­est the case has attract­ed was due to the high pro­file that the issue has attained in pub­lic dis­course, since she was dis­cov­ered miss­ing. Further, too, pub­lic com­ments and con­cerns raised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness have helped fan the flame of inter­est at the high­est lev­el, which has ele­vat­ed the mat­ter to one of utmost pri­or­i­ty. This has paved the way for the engage­ment of one of the country’s pre­mier inves­tiga­tive bod­ies, the Major Organised Investigations and Anti-cor­rup­tion Agency (MOCA), to spear­head the inves­ti­ga­tion. This devel­op­ment, will, of course, attract some ques­tions as to why this miss­ing per­son case, has had such an ele­vat­ed nation­al pro­file, when oth­ers have not. Indeed, these are plau­si­ble and ratio­nal ques­tions for which there are plau­si­ble answers.

Firstly, the fact that Jasmin Dean was visu­al­ly impaired and did not have the capac­i­ty, like nor­mal visu­al­ly abled per­sons, to dis­cern, visu­al­ly, whether she would be in dan­ger, makes a valid case, in my view. Additionally, every attempt must be made to pro­tect the visu­al­ly impaired among us and also the phys­i­cal­ly chal­lenged, who are inca­pable of defend­ing them­selves. In fact, civ­il soci­ety should con­sid­er this their col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty and oblig­a­tions to be a part of this process. The fact is, one’s dis­abil­i­ty, should, in no way be seen as an indi­ca­tion that they are inca­pable of con­tribut­ing to the devel­op­ment of any soci­ety, they are just as impor­tant as any­one else and I dare any­one who wish­es to chal­lenge this fact. Indeed, Floyd Morris, who was the first visu­al­ly impaired per­son to be appoint­ed President of the Jamaican Senate, is a com­mend­able exam­ple. Jasmin Dean is just as spe­cial and quite remark­able. She was accept­ed at UWI on a schol­ar­ship, to pur­sue a degree pro­gram. Her father described the immense chal­lenges he had get­ting her through pri­ma­ry school­ing and the ridicule she expe­ri­enced from oth­er stu­dents, con­cern­ing her dis­abil­i­ty and the sac­ri­fice he had made in facil­i­tat­ing her school­ing.

This was indeed extra­or­di­nary, con­sid­er­ing that many able-bod­ied per­sons are inca­pable of such an achieve­ment or lacked the dri­ve that she had to pur­sue ter­tiary edu­ca­tion. Her dis­ap­pear­ance has raised many ques­tions. Some peo­ple have ques­tioned the ratio­nale behind her father’s action to allow Jasmin to be trav­el­ing alone on a pub­lic pas­sen­ger vehi­cle, from Papine in St. Andrew to St. Thomas, with­out appre­ci­at­ing the fact that many visu­al­ly impaired per­sons appre­ci­ate their inde­pen­dence, and would rather our con­cern for them to be rel­e­gat­ed to just being a guide, with the hope that the sys­tem would have facil­i­tat­ed their inde­pen­dence and pro­vid­ed a safe space. But now that she is miss­ing, the ques­tion can­not escape the minds of good thinkers, whether a sys­tem which should have safe­guard her, by pro­vid­ing that safe space, failed her. Cecil Thoms, the Corporate Communication Manager for the gov­ern­ment-oper­at­ed bus, Jamaican Urban Transport Company (JUTC), which was her main source of trans­port, in an arti­cle in The Gleaner, dat­ed March 13, 2020, cap­tioned, “Stop the blame game”, stat­ed that the JUTC and the University, in 2016 had entered into an arrange­ment to go direct­ly unto the cam­pus to facil­i­tate trans­porta­tion of stu­dents but the arrange­ment was dis­con­tin­ued inex­plic­a­bly, by the University. JUTC still had bus­es that bypass the uni­ver­si­ty to ser­vice a high­ly volatile area, and it was due to that exist­ing sit­u­a­tion, bus move­ments were cur­tailed to pro­tect the staff and bus­es.

Jasmin Dean

On the evening of Jasmin Dean’s dis­ap­pear­ance, the unavail­abil­i­ty of the JUTC bus, caused her to take a taxi from UWI’s gate and the dri­ver of that taxi stat­ed that he had let her off at the Papine Square in St. Andrew. She has not been seen since. The police have since locat­ed and processed the taxi she was last seen in and its operator’s sto­ry was cor­rob­o­rat­ed by a fruit ven­dor who had assist­ed her get­ting into the taxi. One could argue that the University could be found neg­li­gent in not imple­ment­ing the nec­es­sary secu­ri­ty mech­a­nism to ensure the safe­ty of Jasmin Dean con­sid­er­ing its prox­im­i­ty to this volatile area, also that with­out ini­ti­a­tion of the uni­ver­si­ty to be proac­tive in this respect, gov­ern­ment-oper­at­ed bus sys­tem, should be oblig­at­ed to ensure the secu­ri­ty of a pre­mier uni­ver­si­ty as that as the University of the West Indies. Of course, these are plau­si­ble ques­tions, the answers to which are more com­plex and take into con­sid­er­a­tion issues of logis­tics plan­ning and eco­nom­ics. The upshot, this indeed a most unfor­tu­nate inci­dent and regret­table that the soci­ety in which Jasmine Dean lives, there are per­sons with­in, who are so nefar­i­ous that they would want to abduct a visu­al­ly impaired defense­less woman. One with such promise and hope and zeal to suc­ceed. The sys­tem failed Jasmin Dean, it failed to pro­tect her and con­tin­ues to do so, unless a secu­ri­ty mech­a­nism is imple­ment­ed to ensure that this does not recur, there will be many more inci­dents of this nature.

From Contributor: Errol McLeish. Mister McLeish may be reached @ Email: ermarlii16@​hotmal.​com. Or on Twitter: @ermarlii16
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