Fighting crime and protecting rights


by: Guardian Media

Last year, the Ja­maican Gov­ern­ment im­posed lim­it­ed states of emer­gency in crime hot spots—in­clud­ing the is­land’s tourist hub in Mon­tego Bay—in re­sponse to a spike in vi­o­lent crime.

Some cit­i­zens’ rights were sus­pend­ed and the coun­try’s se­cu­ri­ty forces were giv­en ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­er to de­tain peo­ple with­out a war­rant with­in zones of spe­cial op­er­a­tions. If this sounds eeri­ly fa­mil­iar it is be­cause it was in many ways like the 2011 lim­it­ed state of emer­gency im­posed by the Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar ad­min­is­tra­tion and, from all ac­counts, yield­ed sim­i­lar re­sults.

That is be­cause as much as peo­ple clam­our for tough ac­tion against crime, their en­thu­si­asm for such mea­sures wanes when it in­volves cur­tail­ment of their rights and re­stric­tions on their move­ments.

As some cit­i­zens found out the hard way in 2011, the lock­downs and cur­fews man­aged to con­tain crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty but al­so re­sult­ed in loss­es for some busi­ness­es and a con­sid­er­able amount of so­cial fall­out for those who found them­selves, some­times in­no­cent­ly, on the wrong side of the law.

It was there­fore a point of in­ter­est that Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, dur­ing his an­nounce­ment of an ac­cel­er­at­ed dri­ve against crime on Wednes­day, was quick to point out that there would not be a lim­it­ed state of emer­gency, al­though he did warn of “a lev­el of in­con­ve­nience, un­for­tu­nate­ly, to the law-abid­ing cit­i­zens”.

There­in lies the chal­lenge for the au­thor­i­ties here, just as it was for the Ja­maican au­thor­i­ties last year. It is hard to achieve the right bal­ance be­tween the ba­sic rights of cit­i­zens and en­forc­ing tough an­ti-crime mea­sures.

The ques­tion is, how much are cit­i­zens here will­ing to sac­ri­fice to achieve the lev­el of peace and se­cu­ri­ty that has elud­ed this na­tion for so long? With crime boss­es, gang­sters and oth­er crim­i­nal el­e­ments so deeply em­bed­ded in com­mu­ni­ties that some of their un­der­world en­deav­ours af­fect­ed le­git­i­mate busi­ness­es and ac­tiv­i­ties, there is no chance of swift and pain­less ex­trac­tion. The “in­con­ve­nience” re­ferred to by Mr Young dur­ing this “hard push­back” against the crim­i­nals is not like­ly to be mi­nor or brief.

Some law-abid­ing cit­i­zens could be in for a rough ride.

Un­tapped po­ten­tial

Of­fi­cials of the Princes Town Cor­po­ra­tion have earned $60,000 sim­ply by ap­ply­ing a nom­i­nal fee for vis­i­tors to the Dev­il’s Wood­yard mud vol­cano. There may well be oth­er sites of nat­ur­al beau­ty or his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance with the po­ten­tial to bring in rev­enue and add val­ue to the coun­try’s tourism in­fra­struc­ture.

Now is as good a time as any to ex­plore all that un­tapped po­ten­tial.


About Author

Leave A Reply