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SOE is like painting a rotten board

Published:Friday | May 3, 2019 | 12:15 AM


It is with deep concern that I write to express my objection to the imposition of a state of public emergency (SOE) in St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland. I am aware that surveys have shown that as much as 90 per cent of the populace supports this extreme and draconian military dispensation. The SOE was in place for one year, yet Jamaica had 1,287 homicides, which was the third highest in the world (47 per 100,000).

The police commissioner says that the SOE saves lives and data shows that murders were reduced in the area where the SOE was in effect but increased in other areas. What is happening, to some degree, is a displacement of the problem.

Also, even though the SOE was in St James for a year, the murder rate in that parish was still 123 per 100,000, which is considered civil-war status by international standards (United Nations). Some political scientists describe civil war as having more than 1,000 war-related casualties per year in a conflict. Although Jamaica is not in a traditional civil war, it has as many casualties annually.

The declaration of an SOE de jure creates serfs, or slaves, where their human rights have been taken away. The Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus – the right to go to court or have a defence – is denied. As a human being, the right to know why you are locked up and the right to a fair trial should never be denied. This is rule by a mob not by a just system.

Thirdly, the crime is a symptom of a deeply divided society and of social decay. What conditions created these alleged criminals, murderers and thieves? Do the conditions still exist? If they do, more criminals, murderers, and thieves will be created, but more viscous to withstand this new policing tool called an SOE.

I am affected by crime. I have been robbed a few times. At night, I don’t carry cash, and in the day, I carry the least cash as possible. However, I know every mouth must be fed and if that is not happening, people will take drastic measures. This SOE is like painting a rotten board. It looks good, but in the long run, it is just camouflage.