Jamaica has been struggling to fight crime for years and for some reason nothing that has been tried has worked. Despite this, the government of Jamaica insists on following the tested and failed “tough on crime” approach. This is not surprising as the Andrew Holness administration is clearly out of touch with the country, especially the lower classes. The Jamaica Labour Party promised the country prosperity but they’ve been passing laws that only serve to hurt the lower classes – the landless and poor land owners, those who are forced to work a 9 to 5 for minimum wage, and persons in “poor” and “volatile” communities. Increased taxes and gas prices are not prosperity. Stripping volatile communities of their human rights is not prosperity. The Special Zones Bill is another one of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ attacks on the lower class. The government is trying to solve a problem that they do not seem to understand, a problem that they created with their violent politics in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. This Bill aims to strip poor people of some their rights and freedoms and give the Jamaica Constabulary Force the authority to abuse persons in “violent” communities.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force does not have a good relationship with lower class communities; this is due, in part, to the fact that the JCF was never meant to protect us but to protect Massa and his friends in Norbrook and Jacks Hill and Beverly Hills. Khajeel Mais, a high school student, was murdered in cold blood and no-one spent a single day behind bars for it. Mr. Powell was able to not hand in the alleged murder weapon to the police without facing any charges or harassment from the police.
It seems as if nothing was done by the government to address the clear problems - whether they are corruption or incompetence - that exist among its agencies (Mr Powell and Mrs. Patricia Primrose Powell-Wallace were issued a firearms licence for the Walter 9MM pistol that was allegedly used to kill Mais). It seems you can get away with murder in this country once you have the address and enough money. While someone was able to get away with murdering a 17 year old, 15 unarmed persons were shot, 8 of whom died by police officers in February of this year. We are the ones being murdered, by the criminals created by the politicians in the 80’s and by the criminals who call themselves police officers. Instead of improving the training of police officers – the police in Jamaica have a terrible reputation when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill – the government has decided to give them more power and authority over us.
Police officers are now afraid to shoot “criminals” because we have INDECOM to investigate every murder they commit. This should send a message to the government and the people of Jamaica that a lot of these officers are government sponsored killers who are killing innocent and unarmed civilians and they were able to get away with these killings because poor people cannot afford to hire lawyers. Police are now afraid because there is someone holding them accountable for their actions. This Bill will only weaken the powers of INDECOM and give the police officers their licence to kill innocent people and get away with it.
Albert Einstein said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We should look at the approach that August Town took to go a year without any murders in their community when we think about fighting crime in volatile communities. We need to take a community approach and not send armed outsiders into the communities to harass and bully the citizens.
We have to protect the little “democracy” we have and not allow Andrew Holness to make himself into a dictator. Despite the current form of the bill, the original proposal shows its intentions. The original form of this bill would have given too much power to the Prime Minister and the security forces. They would have been able to declare an area a “special zone” for up to 120 days without consulting the House of Representatives. No one person or group of people, who are unelected officials, should have this much power. A government that was elected with less than 25% of eligible voters’ turning out to support them should not have this much power over the lives of persons who did not elect them into office. This is a gross abuse of power by the JLP and we can only hope that by some miracle the middle class persons in our parliament see how ridiculous and harmful this bill is.