The spate of grizzly and barbaric murders during the last few days in Central Clarendon has forced the government to impose a curfew there in order to protect citizens and ensure law and order prevails in communities.
Some speculate that these murders in Clarendon are due to settling scores and gang reprisals but what is patently clear is that law and order has broken down in that parish and the safety and security of its citizens cannot be guaranteed.
When communities have to endure robberies, pregnant women being murdered, gangsters inquiring about bikes and taking out murderous retribution, citizens being shot while taking a walk—it begs the question what kind of country are we living in and can lawlessness and murder be controlled in Jamaica?
Already beset by the ravages of the COVID-19 virus which will cost the country some J$100 billion, the government does not want to be also confronted by criminality and murder beyond its control.
A resident in Clarendon already has to contend with the threat of having the home set ablaze and many in the parish are keen to leave as the devil himself appears to have come to town.
The Minister of National Security Horace Chang is calling for the support of the Clarendon business community to help in the fight to repel the gangs and see to it that harmony is restored. He is misguided here.
It is incumbent on the government to see to it that police and security forces do a good job of safeguarding the people of Clarendon, not the private sector. That’s why we pay our taxes. Calling on the business community to help keep people safe is a road the government should not go down.
The government may very well be quietly saying, this is why we need States of Emergencies (SOEs) and Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) to better protect Jamaicans.
What is clear is that current policing methods in Jamaica are not working and has not been so for some time. Every year, lip service is paid to attempts to fight crime and marginal declines in the murder rate are hailed as victories.
Resources are needed, and the employment of better security and policing techniques. Some of these murders are very similar to cases in Rwanda during the civil war and there are those that will say bear all the hallmarks of a banana republic gone out of control and unable to govern itself.
Jamaica needs and depends on aid from the US, UK, EU, the multilateral agencies and a number of international human rights and civil liberties groups. They will not look favourably upon Jamaica if it cannot control rampant criminality and a high murder count.
Already, former top crime-fighter Renato Adams is proclaiming that the JCF Commissioner has ‘no real autonomy’ and acts at the behest of United States authorities. This is disturbing even to contemplate, and efforts must be made by the government to quell the murderous blood-letting in the country.
Jamaican security forces and the JCF have to be seen to be a deterrent and citizens must repose confidence in their ability to keep them safe.
Digital-first economy, higher income per capita, full employment all mean nothing if Jamaicans are not safe and are being murdered brutally in their own country.
The government is fixated on economic wellbeing but this crime monster is growing and threatening to be invincible and able to tear the country asunder.
A country awash in crime, killings and the failure of law and order spells a failed state and will be a pariah in the international community, never to be taken seriously. One cannot encourage visitors to come to Jamaica and “feel alright” if there is a strong possibility that you can get shot or killed. No wonder in some hotels you don’t see local newspapers.
The reality of life in Jamaica with unbridled lawlessness and atrocities runs counter to the ascension to developed status.
The government rightly does not want to throw its hands up in the air, admit that it is not capable of handling the situation and call for international help. The last thing the government wants to see is a repeat of the Tivoli Gardens situation.
Clarendon needs its veteran MP Mike Henry; the recently elected Pernel Charles Jr and Nesta Morgan to go into Clarendon’s communities and implore its people to take precautions and be mindful of criminal behaviour. Then they have to be leading the charge with a crime-fighting plan in conjunction with the police and security forces.
There is no time to sit in your favourite armchair pontificating and throwing out solutions—it’s time to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.
With less than two weeks to go before the close of 2020, (which has to be one of the worst years in modern human history), murders in Jamaica will assuredly surpass 2019’s figures.
After the muted festive season, the government has to make its number one resolution, a commitment to be more effective in fighting crime and curtailing murders.
Now that’s an accomplishment all Jamaicans will certainly give good cheer to.