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UWI Professor supports putting dons on watch lists

Published:Thursday | March 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Professor Anthony Clayton

Prime Minister Andrew Holness's proposal in Parliament on Tuesday that local dons be put on "watch lists" and intensely surveilled has received backing from Anthony Clayton, professor of sustainable development at the University of the West Indies.

"I don't want to sound patronising to the prime minister. I just think that is what we need. The amount of harm these guys have caused, it is past time that we should be using all possible legal means to break up their business," Clayton said. "Some people are going to start panicking about human rights, so it is important to emphasise that this technique should only be used against high, level criminals and potential terrorist suspects and their facilitators."

Clayton continued: "It is important to dismantle the networks of organised crime, but also their support networks. There are individuals in this country that most people think are decent citizens but are primary facilitators of organised crime. We must penetrate networks, and we will never do it without surveillance and covert tactics."

Holness told Parliament that "in other countries, the equivalents of their dons are placed on watch lists and their movements curtailed. This allows the State to limit and better collect information on their activities".

In agreeing, Clayton drew reference to the once-powerful but now incarcerated Mexican drug lord, JoaquÌn 'El Chapo' Guzm·n Loera, imprisoned in the United States.

"These guys tend to be smart, tough, adaptable, and ruthless. If you look at El Chapo, it is likely that a lot of evidence was obtained on him through covert operations," argued Clayton. "Otherwise, they would have never got close to the guy because this is a guy who was very powerful. We have guys here who are rich, powerful, and connected, and we are not going to get close without covert operations, both physical and electronic surveillance," the professor stated.