Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Deputy Leader and Government Minister, Desmond McKenzie, is lamenting that the state’s efforts to deal with crime are being affected by talks of “people’s constitutional rights”.
McKenzie is also questioning the whereabouts of persons who support the rights of innocent citizens that are being taken away by criminals, who he called “terrorists”.
He made his positions known while addressing the JLP’s Area Council One meeting on Sunday, which was hosted by Councillor for the Trafalgar Division in St Andrew, Kari Douglas, at Jacques Road community centre.
McKenzie said the JLP Administration is not afraid of taking decisions to tackle the issues relative to crime and violence.
“This Government is not afraid to take those decisions that we have been taking! But every time we put one foot forward, we hear them talking about people’s constitutional rights.” he stated.
“What about the innocent families? What about their rights? Who is going to support the rights of innocent Jamaicans who are murdered by these terrorists?” questioned the Local Government and Rural Development Minister.
The Government has, in the past, used states of emergency (SOEs) to assist in the crime fight.
Critics, including the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), have largely opposed the Government’s use of the SOEs as a major crime-fighting tool, citing alleged constitutional breaches relative to extended detentions of some persons who are arrested without charges being laid against them.
In June of this year, the Constitutional Court ruled against aspects of the Emergency Powers Regulations governing earlier versions of SOEs, which were declared to be unconstitutional. The ruling came out of a case that was brought by St James taxi operator Roshaine Clarke, who was awarded nearly $18 million in damages.
Clarke sued the state after he was detained for seven months during the SOE that was declared for St James in January 2018. Among other things, the court ruled that Clarke’s fundamental right to freedom and liberty had been infringed.
The Government has said new methods to assist the crime-fight will be coming soon, such as a new Emergency Powers Legislation and a new Bail Act.
McKenzie, on Sunday, pointed to the recently passed new Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act as one of the new methods to address gun violence.
“We just passed the (new) Firearms Act in Parliament. It soon come into law! And let me tell yuh, anybody who is found with an illegal gun, regardless of who you are or where you come from, prepare to face the consequences of the law!” declared McKenzie.
At the same time, he urged JLP supporters to play their part in the crime fight by not supporting acts of violence.
“… And I want to appeal to all of you here today, to make sure that we don’t, in our communities, support any act of violence.
“Nuh cover up fi nuh gun bwoy! Nuh support any methods that are not in keeping with building a decent society!” he appealed.
The minister also sent condolences to the grieving family members and school community of slain 16-year-old Kingston Technical High School student, Michion Campbell.
The teenager was stabbed to death by a 17-year-old schoolmate during a brawl on the school compound last Thursday.