Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of Jamaicans for Justice Dr Carolyn Gomes is cautioning the police force against proposing what she describes as draconian solutions to problems that are not supported by data.
Gomes was responding to calls by Police Commissioner Owen Ellington for effective legislation that denies criminal suspects from other jurisdictions freedom to enter the country and "enjoy the benefits of criminal proceeds".
Ellington was making a presentation on Tuesday to the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament.
Gomes wants the commissioner to present evidence that supports his claim that high-profile criminals were using Jamaica as a haven to carry out their activities. She reasoned that persons could not establish themselves in Jamaica without first obtaining a work permit.
"Immigration can kick you out if you don't get your work permit, and surely, we are not issuing work permits to undesirables," she asserted.
According to Gomes, the commissioner was blaming legislation for the failings of the police force.
"We are very disappointed, and we would urge the lawmakers to make judgement calls to consider and ask for evidence to support this," she added.
DON'T BREACH RIGHTS
The human-rights advocate warned against making recommendations that would breach people's rights.
"We are getting increasingly concerned in Jamaicans for Justice at this willingness of the commissioner to do things like this - to quarrel with the judiciary publicly, to question how the judiciary does its work, to blame the judiciary for failures of his own mandate of preventing and fighting crime," Gomes declared.
In his presentation, Ellington claimed that Jamaica was being exploited as a "soft spot" for alleged high-profile multiple murderers and drug traffickers from overseas, owing to the absence of tough legislation to deal with organised crime and gangs.
The police chief told members of the select committee of Parliament that persons involved in gunrunning and other serious crimes "have established themselves in Jamaica".
Said Ellington: "They have opened offices. They are relocating families here. They have transferred huge amounts of financial resources into Jamaica because they are seeing Jamaica as a soft spot that can be exploited."
The commissioner argued that the country was increasingly being viewed by criminal syndicates on a global level as a safe place to establish themselves.
He said countries which fail to enact legislation to effectively deal with organised crime and gangs end up becoming what some criminologists refer to as 'criminal-free space'.
"This is where very resourceful criminals, who are under pressure in countries that have strong legislation, relocate their activities into your country, and we have seen this repeatedly with Jamaica."
He said that in the late 1990s, Colombian drug cartels established command-and-control centres in Jamaica.