Jamaicans For Justice berates Justice Minister over crime forum remark

A slight diversion of sorts but rights in other spheres also affect us, with the remark made by the gentleman to the effect that rights may have to be suspended the JFJ responds …….

HUMAN rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) has berated National Security Minister Dwight Nelson over a statement he made at a crime forum in Westmoreland last week, that rights, at times, have to be restricted in order “to bring back order and discipline”.

National Security Minister Dwight Nelson.
In a statement yesterday, the human rights watchdog described Nelson’s remark as “hasty and irresponsible” and one that could be seen as an endorsement of police abuse.

“His utterances amount to state-sanctioned infringements of the constitutional rights of citizens. Breaches of human rights in a society plagued by such abuses are not the answer to our crime rate, it may in fact be contributing to it,” the JFJ said.

Jamaica has been crippled by a spiralling crime rate which has seen murders averaging 1,200 annually. The police report that there are 200 deadly gangs running amok in the country.

Between January 1 and July 31 this year, Jamaica has recorded 908 murders while robberies, break-ins, larceny, rape and carnal abuse have all increased steadily.

Police have fatally shot 157 persons between January 1 and August 31 this year.

The out-of-control crime rate has been causing headaches for Nelson, who has been trying to devise new methods to rein in the crime monster.

Since being appointed security minister in April this year, Nelson has been keeping a series of crime fora across the island.

Successive security ministers have offered a plethora of crime-fighting strategies, but according to JFJ convenor, Carolyn Gomes, none of them have managed to curb criminal activities or prevent police abuse.

“What have we got for this trade-off in the last 40 years? A rise in the murder rate, a decreased clear-up rate, a rising rate of police killings, an increase in the inefficiency of the court system which has trampled on peoples’ rights. That argument has no currency in 21st century Jamaica!” Gomes said.

Instead of restricting human rights, the JFJ said the security ministry, could, among other measures, enhance the police capabilities to fight crime; improve the ballistic, forensic and pathological capabilities to operate effectively; enhance the capabilities of the criminal justice system to deal with matters expeditiously and justly; and heighten social intervention in economically depressed communities.

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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