Wed | Feb 8, 2023

JFJ rejects inflammatory comments

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 12:28 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

We note several comments by Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn on social media, purporting unfounded claims of political bias. These comments and tone are most unfortunate.

Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is a non-partisan organisation, with no political affiliation. Further, we have always put forward our arguments based on issues and have never resorted to disrespect and personal bashing. Therefore, while we expect dissenting viewpoints, we also expect that they, likewise, be imparted respectfully and via the decorum befitting a government minister.

Since our inception in 1999, we have sought to speak on principle, and in accordance with our mandate and specific areas of focus. The JFJ, like all civil society organisations, tries to provide oversight, on behalf of the people of Jamaica, to various government initiatives, regardless of which political party is in power. The JFJ tries to correct the power imbalance between the State and the citizens, especially when the State uses that power to infringe on the rights of individuals. The JFJ tries to plug gaps in service delivery left by governments across administrations.

Over the years, the JFJ has provided legal advice and representation to persons who come seeking help for various issues, including abuse by members of the security forces, unlawfully detention, incarceration at the pleasure of the State, and on behalf of relatives who have been killed in alleged extrajudicial circumstances. Among these are persons from the lower socio-economic strata, the mentally ill and children.

We have monitored the condition of children in state care, including those in conflict with the law, and lobbied for improvements in their situation. The JFJ has also given its input on myriad bills tabled in Parliament impacting rights, vulnerable groups, citizen security and justice, and access to information. Our most recent submission was delivered on the Bail Bill, 2022.

Our work in the courts spans the Coroner’s Courts to the Judicial Committee. Certain legal services we provide are not given by any government agency.

The JFJ’s work is integral to Mrs Cuthbert-Flynn’s ministry. In 2021, the JFJ supported 52 persons from key populations living with and affected by HIV, many of whom face discrimination, as well as over 100 women affected by violence and who have limited options for legal remedies.

The JFJ lobbied against the use of states of emergency (SOEs) to fight crime for several reasons, including the fact that we cannot support measures that have no demonstrable data that it works, and, more importantly, that breach the fundamental rights of citizens.

We reject the narrative perpetuated by public officials that if persons or entities oppose SOEs, then they must support criminals. This is a wrong approach and ought to be rejected. These comments feed into hate and divisiveness, and undermine the very organisations that are important for state accountability.

MICKEL JACKSON

Executive Director

Jamaicans for Justice