Stand Up for Jamaica is quite worried that another State of Emergency was declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and we are yet to see any legitimate and sustainable crime-fighting strategies. Mr. Holness announced the imposition of a State of Public Emergency for St. Catherine which has seen a spike in gun violence this week which he describes as a ‘National Crisis’.
While we acknowledge the situation needs immediate attention, we are not supportive of the action as it is repeatedly used,and it is a clear failure to address the issue of crime. It is concerning that the government’s use of the State of Public Emergency is the only tool being considered to address the issue as it does not guarantee the success or ensure the safety and security of law-abiding citizens.
In a landmark decision just this morning, the constitutional Court chaired by Chester Stamp delivered a judgment that Rushane Clarke's fundamental rights have been violated.
State of Emergency Regulations declared unconstitutional - gave authorities undue unfettered power to abrogate the rights of a class of persons and the damages more than 17.8 million dollars. Can the SOE declared in St. Catherine still stand?
We believe this method has created mayhem and often results in the infringement of the human rights of the most vulnerable which creates a divide among citizens and security forces.We have seen many instances of confrontation and lawmakers should ensure that members of security forces are trained in human rights and conflict resolution to deal with civilian engagement.In addition, the SOE will add more financial strain to some communities as people are not able to move outside of their community.
When the first SOE was called we considered it as an opportunity to develop, along its extension ,a robust social intervention in those areas to address critical issues and engage government, civil society and resident in a common vision and plan to empower people living in the SOE one, in creating opportunities and jobs and conflict resolution programs to offer an alternative avenue to violence.
We are calling for the Government to develop a comprehensive, effective, and sustainable crime-fighting plan that will stem the widespread criminal activities. There should be a clear plan to develop shared community policing in troubled areas. The use of police and soldiers can simply contain or restrain flairs of violence but is it not fair ,neither useful.
To burden them with the responsibility to solve a problem which has to be dealt with tackling crime from its roots ,will only contribute to damage any form of community policing built by the efforts of many police officers .Arbitrary detention in lock up for periods of time lasting months without charges will affect those who are detained and thei families.
Once more SUFJ calls for a real engagement from all stakeholders, for proposals and action
directed to introduce constructive chances ,opportunities and jobs as a crime deterrent .