Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Break cycle of violence - INDECOM boss makes plea for social change in independent Ja

Published:Tuesday | August 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter
Terrence Williams (right), commissioner of Independent Commission of Investigations, and Elsunuah Henlon, at the St Joseph’s Teachers’ College Alumni Association 2018 Grand Homecoming Luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Thursday.

Terrence Williams, head of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), is decrying independent Jamaica's failure to effectively deal with the problem of crime and to provide security and justice for its people.

Arguing that Jamaica has had a long history of violence, Williams says that the country must break that tradition.

According to the INDECOM commissioner, in 1962, Jamaica had one of the lowest murder rates in the world with 3.9 per 100,000. However, in 2005, that figure rose to the highest in the world with 58 per 100,000.

He was addressing the St Joseph's Teachers' College Alumni Association 2018 Grand Homecoming Luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, recently.

Williams highlighted that the United Nations figures for 2013 show that the world average per capita for murder was 6.2 per 100,000. The region that recorded the highest average in the world was the Americas, with 16.3 per 100,000.

In terms of murders per capita, in 2013, The Bahamas had 28.4 per 100,000; Belize had 37 per 100,000; Jamaica recorded 47 per 100,000; Trinidad and Tobago had 30.88 per 100,000; The US Virgin Islands 49.26 per 100,000; Cuba 4.99 per 100,000; Nicaragua 7.37 per 100,000; and Haiti 10 per 100,000.

"Why do we see these high figures in Jamaica in our Independence?" Williams questioned, noting that there was no single contributing factor.

He asserted that many are of the view that if the current "bad men" are killed, that would bring down the crime rate.

However, Williams told the retired educators that there was one factor that could play a part in the high murder rates in Jamaica and the Americas.

The countries that record high murder rates in the Americas, said Williams, all have a long history of oppressive exploitation of the masses for extended periods.

Commenting on a book titled Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, authored by Joy DeGruy, an American psychological researcher and social worker, Williams said the writer noted that because of the centuries of slavery, followed by racism and oppression, generations have developed survival strategies that include criminal and antisocial actions.

He said that while children today have never experienced slavery, they are taught the trauma by the handing down of violence from generation to generation.

"What needs to be done is that you must have social change to break this chain of handing down violence upon violence, rule breaking upon rule breaking, as a way to survive. Break the chain and let justice and respect for justice be the way that we build our society."

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com