IF THERE is anything positive that has, so far, emerged from this week's vigilante murder in Trelawny of Donovan Hazley, and the injuring of his 18-year-old daughter, it is the relative speed with which the police detained five men suspected of involvement in their attack.
It is now important that the police carry through their investigation with thoroughness, and those who perpetrated this brutish act be swiftly brought to justice and be made to bear the full penalty of the law. For it is the law acting with speed, certainty and fairness that, ultimately, will be the most effective antidote to the savagery that cut down Mr Hazley. It would be oxymoronic and perverse to equate the Trelawny event with justice of any quality or geography.
The merciless chopping to death of Mr Hazley, 43, and the maiming of his daughter were triggered by the sad death of two small boys, Alex and Javani Brown, 10 and seven, respectively. They were found naked in a river.
There was soon a rumour that the children had been sexually molested, killed and their bodies dumped. Word spread, without evidence, it appears, that a relative of Mr Hazley was the killer.
When the mob that went in search of the supposed killer couldn't find him, they turned their anger to what they presumed to be the next best, and nearest thing - a relative. In this case, Mr Hazley - and the daughter who tried to help her father against the herd.
It is ironic that a post-mortem revealed that the Brown boys died of drowning, though their bodies showed sign of pre-death injuries. It is not clear, however, if those injuries were inflicted by someone or resulted from a struggle against the elements while in the river. Nor is it clear under what circumstances they left their home.
But on the flimsiest of evidence a man was butchered and his daughter narrowly escaped death. And the shame is that this is not a rare experience. There have been scores of such reported vigilante killings in Jamaica so far this year. The real number is perhaps substantially higher.
A part of the reason for such barbaric behaviour is a general breakdown of law and order in the Jamaica society - a diminished respect for authority. This has been dragged down over time by a corrupting of governance. People do not expect persons in leadership to do the right thing, as a matter of course. So, there is nothing wrong or immoral if those who follow breach behavioural norms.
But the more immediate support trigger for events such as the Trelawny mob violence is the inability or incompetence of Jamaica's constabulary in finding, and bringing to justice, the perpetrators of crime.
For example, of the 1,125 murders reported last year, only 44 per cent were cleared up, which does not necessarily mean that someone was arrested, taken to court and tried. Rather, a clear suspect was identified. The clear-up rate may be 10 percentage points higher than a decade ago, but remains a far cry from the level required to provide an effective deterrent to crime. Further, when someone is actually arrested for a crime, it may take years for the case to traverse the courts.
People lose confidence in the system, which is why justice for Mr Hazley is vital.
The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.