Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Letter of the Day: Government has betrayed mandate to protect people

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Martin Henry's column in The Sunday Gleaner of September 20, 2015 titled 'Burying murdered Monica' is perhaps the most searing criticism I have read on the failure of Government to maintain its security mandate. That Mr Henry has managed to do so, in his usual understated style, is creditworthy.

The principal reason for government is to secure and offer protection to its citizens. The first fundamental right that the Jamaican Constitution protects for its citizens is the right to life. To Monica and the hundreds who are killed each year, the Constitution and the Government are failed entities.

Mr Henry's article points to this abject failure in several key areas of security: the perennial lack of resources; demotivated and inadequate personnel; a creaking, undermanned judiciary that is now accustomed to delays measured in decades; and lack of the required forensic skills. How many scholarships have the Ministry of National Security offered in pathology?


Ministry unable to cope


The ministry appears unable to cope and its prayer for divine intervention has been ignored. We were reminded that had the don for the area been in place, Monica would not have lost her life in the manner she did. Clearly, there are persons more efficient at the Government's core function than the Government itself.

I had earlier watched the prime minister promise protection to the young girls of Jamaica from rape and abuse. The question I ask is this: Is there any more traumatic event than to have your mother, the sole breadwinner, cut down like an animal in the street? What of the children orphaned by violence?

What was Monica's sin? Was it that her few pennies could not meet the revenue demands of the hoodlums that are allowed to prey on ordinary Jamaicans by levying a daily tax?

A victim compensation fund should be established to mitigate the loss of wage earners, and persons dependent on them, and to compensate persons who suffer loss and injury through criminal violence.

It would be a recognition that the State has a responsibility to protect its citizens. Many governments that are much more successful in protecting their citizens have found it necessary to establish such a fund. We have funded the criminal suspect from the moment he is charged, through conviction and imprisonment. Is it not time we spare a thought for the victims.