JAMAICA | Opposition defends its Rejection of the States of Emergency as Normal Crimefighting Tool

JAMAICA | Opposition defends its Rejection of the States of Emergency as Normal Crimefighting Tool

MONTERGO BAY, Jamaica November 26, 2021 - The People's National Party is defending its decision not to support the government’s request for an extension of the State of Emergency imposed by the government in seven areas of the country fourteen days ago.

The states of emergency now in force in seven police divisions across Jamaica will end On Saturday night after the government failed to get the senate's approval for an extension.

Leader of  Opposition Business in the Senate Peter Bunting said his side could not support an extension without compelling evidence of  the need for the measure. The government had been seeking to have the measures continue until February 12 next year.

At a press conference today, Opposition Leader Mark Golding said, ”We have not supported the extension of the State of Emergency because we feel it is a failed strategy that has been used over a three year period from 2017 to 2020; it did not achieve any lasting improvements in Jamaica’s national security situation. To the contrary, we have continued to see elevated levels of violent crimes and in particular murders over that period,” he said.

“Furthermore it shines a beacon on the prosecutorial aspects of law enforcement, because it [SOE] has inculcated in the security forces a practice where they can just go and detain somebody and hold them without any recourse to the courts,” Golding lamented.

The Opposition Leader pointed out that “the important task of the police is to investigate cases properly; prepare cases for prosecution and to get these to the court which can result in convictions of violent criminals. This has not been happening in the numbers that they should, and that is the source of our problem,” Golding said.

He observed that “we need to get back to a situation where investigative techniques and investigations are properly conducted, they are prosecuted and send the criminals to prison;

He said the PNP would  support legislation that would enable the security forces to go about their business more effectively, and pointed to a number of legislative measures that the PNP adopted while in office.

“We introduced the DNA evidence law which enabled DNA evidence to be used to secure prosecutions; The Evidence act which enabled computer evidence to be generated. The use of the Jamaica Eye system to be effectively used as a crime fighting tool; The Anti-Gang Legislation which is now having a great effect, and we have supported the government’s attempt to further strengthen it; We introduced the Lotto Scam legislation which had been important in trying to control that particular phenomenon which has been a source of further violence in the country,” the Opposition Leader outlined.

Mr. Golding has again  called on the Prime Minister and his government to resume the Vale Royal Talks as we want to be a proactive and constructive opposition that supports this national crisis of national security.”

“We believe that if we work on this together behind closed doors where we can hold free discussions about strategy and tactics,Jamaica will benefit from that.”

The Opposition Leader lamented that “I have been calling on him to do this from the Budget debate back in February. I called on him again in the debate on this State of Emergency extension,in the House on Tuesday. I hope he will accept this good faith gesture on the part of the Opposition, and allow us to work with the government to find solutions.”

“We need to have more Violence Interrupters out there and enable them to do their work; the Peace Management Initiative is to be strengthened, not defunded; We need to have a national programme targeting youths who are vulnerable and at risk to give them mentorship, to give them life skills training, and to give them vocational skills training, and opportunities for employment after they have gone through that process,” he observed.

The Opposition Leader said  “the JDF can and should be used extensively in support of the police in troubled areas, in areas where they have criminals with dangerous weapons, they should be deployed in aid of the police. But the police must do the police work, and the police must investigate and prepare the cases to put those criminals behind bars. Scraping up hundreds or thousands of young men without charge and detaining them for long periods of time, is not the solution to our problem.”

Why are we going back to a failed strategy which is suspect in terms of its constitutional compliance,” Golding questioned. 

“The constitution is not just an academic thing! It embodies the rights and the freedoms that our people have fought and sacrificed for. We believe it must be upheld. That's why all of us in Parliament have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the constitution. It's not an academic thing! It is a fundamental thing! And the constitutionality of this government’s use of the state of Emergency as an ongoing, routine, crime fighting strategy, has been brought into question in the courts

Author’s Posts