Tag: crime

Is Jamaica serious about tackling crime?

Is Jamaica serious about tackling crime?

The JCF has killed Duppy Film! Let us break out in song and dance and let us breathe easy, the JCF has it seemed to found their aim again. Over the past two weeks, the JCF has been on a roll, killing up to a dozen dangerous wanted men and having one turn himself in. Some would see this as Jamaica finally taking crime seriously, taking it hard to the criminals and ensuring that they hurt no one else, and while I am elated that these persons can no longer cause such harm to society as they have been alleged to (yes almost none were tried and found guilty so alleged), I can’t help but wonder if by the recent actions of the JCF and the majority of our reactions are we serious about tackling crime or do we only like the idea?

Now before one gets to thinking that this is some piece crying over the ‘fallen soldier’ that is Duppy Film, let me say again no it is not, persons who commit crimes, and persons who commit violent crimes deserve prison, and in some cases a bit more than that. However, that does not blind me to the fact that something is fundamentally wrong with a crime strategy that entails simply ‘kill anything that moves’, or worse still ‘shoot first and questions be damned’, a strategy that totally ignores key questions and a society that seems willfully blind to them.

Now it is not a secret (or maybe an open one) that Duppy Film was well connected, a hired gun he was in hot demand for a time and used by quite a few influential persons. It is also not a secret (again maybe another open one) that he was paid to take out an influential individual. He was found in a part of the island (his home parish admittedly) where the guns for drugs trade and the import/export of drugs is home, and just like that, after seven years on the run, eluding a dragnet of 180 joint JCF-JDF, was found and gunned down out of the blue… does that not strike anyone else as strange? That this man who had answers so so many pertinent and pressing issues, was gunned down just so, after seven years of eluding everyone? To me, something smells fishy about that whole incident.

That is really the point that I am really trying to make here, this not so much to mourn the life that was wasted because the system was set up in such a way that the young man faced a choice of the gun (with its pros and inevitable cons) or play by the rules and be shafted (as is the everyday reality in this nation), no, it is to simply state that as a nation with crime and criminal elements roosted and having taken deep roots in the society and state apparatus, how can we be pleased with the killing of a person who held such key information?

Yes, in all likelihood he was the bloodthirsty killer that we read about in the papers, and that may have been the case with the countless others, but is it any real surprise that after destroying the criminal element without getting the necessary information (for which man living in West Street working as a day labourer can afford a brand new AK-47?) as to who funded him/her, or who their boss is, has only resulted in us looking to smash the 1300 mark for murders this year? Catch them, hold them, convict them, wring the information out of them and then go after the big fishes, that is one of the fastest ways to put a dent in crime.

Let’s not remain the same society that we have been for so long happy with half measures and actions that in the long run will only lead to the national harm. Let’s demand that instead of killing every suspected SOB on site and in every shootout, the JCF instead shoot to wound, say a gut or knee shot, painful but not necessarily lethal, that way we can get the relevant information, lock up the actual power players and truly start ending this crime scourge.

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Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Finally, after over a year of dilly-dallying the government has passed a bill aimed at ridding the nation of violence (mainly caused by gangs and inflicted by the gun). The bill sailed through the lower house with bi-partisan approval, and though the debate in the Senate went on for quite some time, it got passed again with bi-partisan support. The law as it is now and has been passed allows for the security forces (through the PM and his security council) can declare anywhere a zone of special operations. Some people look at the new law as a breath of fresh air which will see us being both ‘tough on crime while fixing the causes’, but though this bill may make some who reside in the affluent neighborhoods feel like something positive is being done the reality is that no lasting positive changes will be made by this bill while it opens the way for Jamaica to become a police state.

This bill, much like its failed predecessor the Suppression of Crime Act, will come to nothing more than poor people being taken advantage of while failing to actually address the root causes of crime. It is very backwards and in many ways puts the cart before the horse. The prime example being the ‘clear, hold, build’ model that they have been touting. Now it sounds good and that it is a straightforward fix, but ask yourself, where are these members of the social service who are to ‘build’ coming from? When last did you see an advert in the papers recruiting for this key job, this job that is at the heart of this plan? Are we to send in the already stretched CDA or some other underfunded, undermanned and overstretched agency?

While much talk and hot air has been wasted on the areas of crime, no one during this entire debate has looked at what is possibly the biggest thing stopping us from fighting crime, uptown and monied Jamaicans. It is no secret that certain persons who live in the rarefied areas like Cherry Gardens are the ones who finance the guns coming into the wharf to arm men in the ghetto who can’t even buy chicken back. We have seen where this model will lead us, we saw it in the 70’s=90’s, and for those of us too young to remember what that looked like, look no further than Brazil and Rio where even after a decade of ‘clear, hold and build’ for the Olympics and World Cup the favelas are still just as violent as before, only with more police brutality.

The law as written and passed is actually mind-boggling in parts, it strips us of our freedoms and liberties while putting far too much power in the hands of a notoriously corrupt constabulary, the army (which isn’t viewed in a much better light) and a small group of overreaching politicians. It gives the security forces such arbitrary powers under very vague circumstances that are open to abuse, take for example Objects of Act 3 (d): Empowers members of the Joint Force to search a person, vehicle or place without a warrant, within a zone, if they reasonably suspect that an offence has been, is being or is about to be committed.  That bit of legislation is so wide and expansive that it, in reality, will enable the Force to search anywhere in that zone because they have a hunch, no actual proof. A piece of legislation that opens the public up to arbitrary and unjustified stops and searches because a crime is being committed nearby, it is the lazy man’s police work.

Then we get into the fact that it opens the nation up to the rule of an executive PM as opposed to one who acts with the consent of and after consultation and agreement with his Cabinet. This can be seen in Zone of special operation, Declaration of Zone 4(1) The Prime Minister in Council, may, by order, declare any geographically defined area within a single continuous boundary in Jamaica, as a zone of special operations for a period not exceeding sixty days if the circumstances set out in subsection (2) exist.

Now, regardless of how stringent the regulations of subsection (2) are (and they are actually pretty black and white), we have seen on a daily basis where persons from both parties both while in government and opposition frequently play fast and loose (or just being plain corrupt) with the law and freely associate with known criminals. We see where laws are implemented on certain persons or groups based on partisan loyalty and who can pay the most and that up to today has not changed, therefore asking us to accept the Prime Minister will have almost unchecked power as it relates to both when, where, how long and who leads these zones is utter insanity as we have seen where they can be (and are) so destructive with the limited amount of power that they have.

haggartfunerald20010508rb(Peter Phillips, Omar Davies and Karl Blythe at Willie Haggarts funeral)

With scamming now almost half of what tourism brings into the coffers of this nation (almost one billion dollars according to a VICE article) how do we expect to get these young men (and women) who have been inculcated with this get rich quick mentality? With the drug scene still prevalent (and really at its same monstrous heights since the deportation of Coke and Ramcharan) where are the plans that we should be putting in place to break the deadly underground and illegal triangular trade we have with the Colombians and the Mexicans (the Mexicans who now control some of our largest and most profitable illegal ganja fields)? Where is the plan to strengthen the border to stop criminals from foreign lands coming to our shores to assist in doing us so much harm, a simple walk to any bar on Water Lane in the vicinity of West Street downtown will have you hearing French creole (in the Haitian dialect) and Spanish (in the dialect of persons from the Dom Rep, Colombia and Mexico), without a safe border how will the crime and the importation of guns be stemmed?

drugRamcharan

With corruption permeating throughout all layers of the Jamaican government institutions just how exactly will this crime bill help stem crime long term? When a man can bribe the customs agent and security to turn a blind eye to guns coming into and narcotics exiting the nation how exactly will the crime end? Going back to ports of entry and exit, the airport is so lax that one has to wonder if we really do have a crime problem and all that it carries, especially when one realizes that a lot of the drugs are going through because there is a network of gang members working as security officers and the persons who check the bags that go into the cargo hold of the plane. This is common knowledge and has been for years yet we can’t (or don’t want to) even manage to crack that illegal ring of drug smugglers, yet we are to rest assured that the same men and women who can’t do the simplest of tasks relating to anti-corruption and crime prevention and fighting will solve the crime problem with a bill that strips us all (but really the poor) of all our legal rights and free to be treated like chattel.

With little to naught being done to tackle the root of crime (such as chronic poverty, a lack of education and little hope of finding a decent job and housing etc) coupled with the total lack of any agenda of tackling those who both finance and profit from the crime that has taken root in the nation then we can safely assume that this Zone of Special Operation will be a dud. It is nothing but a sick repetition of the Suppression Of Crime Act and the results will be the same, an abject failure coupled with the eventual spike in violent crime. Instead of aiming for the ‘silver bullet’ to forever eliminate crime (which doesn’t exist) let us instead roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of actually tackling crime. Let’s improve our education system, employ our people and ensure that poverty becomes a thing of the past, let’s aim to rid ourselves of the rats uptown so that they can stop offering spurious claims of get-rich quick schemes to the kids in the ghetto who only want to eat and see no way out, if not then lets give the keys of state to the army and police as this bill already leaves the door ajar for them to take it.

 

P.S. Read the Act here for further spine tingling revelations of just what is in store for us

Jamaica, the land of piracy

Jamaica is the wild-west , the home of pirates make no bones about it. This is a land where anything goes so long as one has the money and the influence and it has been this way for eons. One is hard-pressed to find another nation in the Commonwealth that short of having military dictatorship is as wild, riddled with corruption and with a judicial system that is currently on life support to put it mildly. Here is a nation that in so many ways is a hearken back to our days piracy that one has to truly wonder if anything in or about our ruling class has changed?

Here is a country where men of power and influence, persons who are movers and shakers in society who have made their initial riches through drugs. This is no secret, some of the best ganja comes from the acreage of some very prominent families and that the cash that they make from exporting the stuff is used to keep our economy afloat. It is also no secret that some of the nations top financiers of crime do not live in the bowels of the inner city but instead reside in luxurious houses on the hills of Jamaica. These pushers of poison and murder are persons of influence hold sway over our politicians who either routinely accept the dirty money with open hands, or they simply become politicians themselves so that they become more untouchable. How exactly have we moved on from the days of Henry Morgan?

In this country murderers can roam the streets freely because they have the cash or the connections. Here in this country we have a sitting MP who left parliament to go to the aid of a known criminal, one accused of murder among other things. In here we accept the fact that killers rule us because they are either paid by or are paying the piper, they cavort with the politicians who use them as protection still and are unafraid of any police officer because ‘squaddie’ knows where his bread is buttered. Does this not sound like a land of pirates still?

In this land justice is a game and we see that on a daily basis. Persons wait ten years to have their date in court for a fraud case only to have it thrown out after two days of sitting, leaving the victims to wonder if justice is real. We have persons who even after being accused of murder refusing to hand their firearm in for processing and they are yet to see a jailhouse. Could it be that some in our justice system have been bought off? While those involved in the justice system will continue to say that it is not corrupted and only slow, the eye test tells us otherwise, it looks rotten from the inside out.

Jamaica hasn’t changed that much since the days of Port Royal being our greatest city. We are still run by a corrupt elite, we still live in a society where justice is a game and rights are non-existent if you don’t have the cash to bribe or the influence to force persons to turn a blind eye.

But things and times will change, and change they already are. Jamaica, in its current state is on the edge of a precipice with one of two ways, continue down our lawless path till the point that we become ungovernable and make Haiti look like a cake walk, or we the people take matters and our destiny into our own hands. With civil society groups springing up and established ones getting a stronger voice (see groups like Tambourine army,  WROC and JFJ) one can see where the citizenry has started to not only take notice of the rottenness of the  society but to also take action and demand change.

However pirates will be pirates and hardly ever relinquish power without a fight and the backlash has already begun. We the public must be wary at this point in time, the politicians who themselves act like or are in cahoots with the pirates are not idiots. They will sing the song of reform while continuing to hold us over the barrel as seen in the laughable saga of the Mombasa grass, so lets keep an eye out and keep pushing for a change, if not i fear we may always be a haven for the pirates and criminally inclined.

Men under siege

Our men are under siege and are involved in a daily and often times ignored fight for there lives. While women’s issues rightly are at the forefront of our minds and actions and rightly so as historically (and today still) they have been used, abused and ignored, we have at the same time in this society taken our eyes off of the men and boys and we are now reaping the deadly fruits.

When it comes to the raising of our young men we have failed miserably, take for example work ethic. We as a society complain and moan that our men have no drive and or ambition, what do you expect when we live in a society where boy children are mocked and called mama man when they do housework or even wash? How do you create a lust for success and ambition when our boys are either treated as little princes or a thugis?

When it comes to education we have the same issues, boys are given the rough treatment and we are seeing the negative results. Girls (again for just and correct reasons) have been pushed and fed the line that education and a thirst for knowledge is the key to life, as such girls and women are now doing exceedingly well educationally (though more could be done). At the same time boys have for years been left to there own devices, been told boys will be boys, ignored as they gravitate towards role models who call education and knowledge ‘girly’ or ‘gay’ and now boys and young men make up around twenty to thirty percent of our colleges and are mainly stuck in hellish jobs (if they work at all).

Social interaction again we have the same problems. While girls are taught to be polite and respectful boys are again left wanting, left to imitate ‘role models’ who are shocking examples of manners etc.

We want our men to respect women and treat them well (as we should) yet we berate a child because he is a virgin or congratulate a child for losing his virginity to a grown woman (which is a crime). How can we expect our men to respect our ladies if they are not taught from early on that certain things you don’t do?

A serious change needs to be made in how we raise our young men and it needs to happen fast if we are to both hold back the rising tide of crime and actually grow the economy. With most crimes being committed by under and unemployed men, with men making up the majority of victims of violence and with men abusing women (both verbally and physically) it is obvious that our men need some form of attention lest the situation become worse.

This change is happening, but at a slow pace because it is mainly charitable agencies doing this. Men need attention, but not at the expense of women, this much is obvious. If the state really wishes to curb the bad behavior in our men then they must start when they are boys. It can be done, with boys taking lessons while their mothers are at the clinic etc, and though it may not sound nice to say a bit of attention on the men would go a long way towards stemming the rise in spousal murders and abuse.

Let us hope that this change is done fast, if not the nation will continue to stagnate as only half the workforce would have qualifications to work and the seeming increase in spousal murders will continue to rise as our men and boys continue down the path of self-destruction