Dennie Quill, Columnist
I have often heard jungle justice described as a contagious disease. In the past week, we have witnessed mob killings in Trelawny and in St Catherine.
It has been established that the Trelawny man did nothing wrong, and had not committed any offence. He was slaughtered because his stepson was suspected of being involved in the deaths of two little boys. His 18-year-old daughter was also severely chopped.
What if your child were accused of committing a crime and the mob came for you? It is something worth thinking about as we aim to clarify our own feelings about mob justice.
The other victim was involved in a motor vehicle accident along the Old Harbour Road. Sadly, these are not rare occurrences, and we are left to wonder which community will next rise up in anger and mete out this deplorable form of vengeance.
If I had a dollar for every time our political leaders talk about our "democracy built on the rule of law", I would be numbered among the world's millionaires. Isn't it closer to the truth that there is a growing number of Jamaicans who have absolutely no regard for the rule of law?
Yes, we have a functioning constabulary with thousands of men and women who have sworn to serve and protect the people of Jamaica. Yes, we have a judiciary of very competent men and women who have been charged with the responsibility of dispensing justice in an arena where one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And yes, our Government has designated an array of learned men and women to manage our national security portfolio.
So why then do a significant group of Jamaicans feel that beating, chopping and lynching suspects is the only way to get justice? Why have so many people resorted to jungle justice instead of allowing the available instruments of the rule of law to be applied to criminal cases?
people fed up
Some argue that there is so much simmering frustration among average persons that it does not take much for it to boil over. In an era where political representation is found wanting, many are simply frustrated with the state of their lives.
A spark can be lit in a split second and a life can be snuffed out. It could happen over the theft of a phone or a goat. The truth is that with unemployment at an unacceptably high number, there are enough persons in all our towns and villages who could easily fall into either the category of criminal or mobster.
Also, a majority of people have lost trust in the police. From time to time, citizens identify glaring weaknesses in the way the police deal with the public in carrying out their investigations. The mistrust is also fuelled by a belief that some policemen are in bed with criminals.
People are also frustrated with the slothful justice system where cases are hung up for many years. The wheels of justice grind very slowly and no one seems to understand the reasoning behind the maxim 'justice delayed is justice denied'.
Another reason for rising frustration in Jamaica is the perception that only the rich and well-connected will get justice in this society, and so they subscribe to the instant justice.
So here we are in 2012, where the regard for human life appears to be at its lowest. We risk falling into anarchy if we continue in this vein. The police and the judiciary have a critical job to convince the public that they have the will and resources to deal with marauding criminals who continue to stalk our land.
Dennie Quill is a veteran media practitioner. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.