Robert Morgan, the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with responsibility for Information, has labelled Opposition Leader Mark Golding’s ultimatum on Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson as an “unbecoming” attack on the nation’s top cop.
Golding, during a People’s National Party (PNP) press conference earlier today (January 25), had demanded that Anderson step down as police commissioner within the next 60 days if a noticeable change isn’t seen in the national murder tally.
Golding’s comments came as he castigated the police commissioner and the Andrew Holness administration for failing to curb rising crime and violence across the island.
“This Government has totally mismanaged the national security of our country. Jamaica has witnessed a 10 per cent increase in murders in 2021 and a 19 per cent increase over the first three or so weeks of 2022—with 112 people being killed in 23 days,” Golding had remarked as he demanded the resignation of National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang.
Of the island’s top cop, he said: “Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson is also hereby being put on warning. He’s the main architect and promoter of the Government’s state of emergency (SOE) strategy as an ongoing policing tool. No other commissioner of police before him has followed that unprecedented and what we regard dangerous path… Abrogating the most basic and hard-earned rights of Jamaicans in the name of ordinary policing.”
However, in a statement this afternoon, Morgan said Golding’s comments demonstrated that, “given the choice between the protection of Jamaicans and politics, he has chosen politics”.
According to Morgan, Golding’s comments do not benefit Jamaica’s security priorities and, in fact, “seek to undermine the hard work and progress being made against crime and criminality”.
He said Golding should remember that Jamaica’s laws expressly empower the heads of the security forces to recommend the use of SOEs and that, in this regard, it is entirely appropriate that where their intelligence and circumstances on the ground so justify, and “in circumstances where a significant reduction in murders has been achieved under SOEs, both the commissioner of police and the head of the army, have presented to Parliament and the public, convincing arguments on the effectiveness of SOEs as part of the suite of measures needed in the fight against crime”.
Said Morgan: “That he would seek to impute some sort of impropriety in this regard is unbecoming and reckless.”
He argued that Golding and the Opposition “should recognise that the public is patently aware the security forces
are not the only bodies or persons who have called for or supported a call for SOEs”.
“Residents of affected inner-city communities, members of the business community and indeed the entire cross-section of Jamaicans have been represented in separate polls reflecting more than 70 per cent of Jamaicans being in
support of the implementation of public states of emergency to curb murders,” Morgan said.
He added that Golding was not a security expert and that the Government would “continue to rely on the advice of persons who are experts in their field to achieve the best results in the interest of Jamaica’s peace and security”.
Morgan said furthermore that, on the matter of the constitutionality of the SOEs, no court has deemed the use of SOEs unconstitutional, but nonetheless, the Government had gone ahead to modify the relevant regulations dealing with the detention of persons to enhance the protection of citizens’ rights.
He said the Holness administration remained focused on using all lawful measures available to achieve the immediate, short, medium, and long-term goals, which would ultimately deliver a safe and secure Jamaica, in which current
and future generations can thrive.