Sun | Jun 24, 2018

Vigilante justice not the answer to crime

Published:Thursday | October 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

WITH AT least two people killed within a one-week span by civilians who have decided to take the law into their own hands, one local clergyman is questioning the will of law enforcement agents to prosecute persons fingered in these acts.

General secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, the Reverend Karl Johnson, while calling for an end to the brutal acts which have dominated the media over the last couple of days, fell short of labelling law enforcers as "silent supporters" with lapse in their approach to the issues at hand.

"Especially when we think that the events are so dastardly that they deserve it, our law enforcement probably don't waste time prosecuting and investigating.

"Could it be that there is a sense in which some of us, including our law enforcement agents, are silent supporters of some of these acts, hence, are not as repulsed by them or as anxious to prosecute the guilty ones as we should?

"We need to be as rigorous in bringing to justice those who participate in acts of that nature; the mob justice, the community penalty," Johnson said.

Just last Friday, Michael Melbourne, 41-year-old teacher at the Old Harbour High School was chased and stabbed to death by an angry mob after the vehicle he was driving struck down four persons along the Old Harbour Road.

The killing of the teacher followed on the heels of last week Monday's incident in Trelawny where a man was chopped to death after angry residents went in search of another man they felt was responsible for the killing of two boys in the area. The daughter of the deceased was also injured during the incident.

Value judgement

While pointing out that the country is facing a crisis as it relates to value judgement, Johnson said there is also a possibility that what is breeding these acts is the belief that it is easy to get off scot-free.

"For too many of us, crime does pay and too many of us are willing to break the law with scant regards, because nobody will catch us. We have to find a way, along with our police and our justice system to, in our journey of humanising Jamaica, remind ourselves and to make it clear that crime doesn't pay."

Meanwhile, chairperson of Jamaica Civil Society Coalition, Carol Narcisse while also decrying the recent incidents, said whether or not the police have been lax in their approach, there is no excuse for persons to take the law into their own hands.

"There is no excuse for us to become murderers, because that's what we are doing. Our becoming murderers is not an answer to crime. All of us must be committed to allowing the law to take its course," Narcisse said.

In the meantime, National Security Minister Peter Bunting said while he believes the police have shown commitment to arresting persons implicated in mob justice, it is usually difficult to single out individuals for prosecution.