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Government again warned against use of curferw

Published:Monday | June 13, 2016 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
Dr Herbert Gayle
Horace Levy

Critics have renewed their warning to the Government about the use of curfews which the administration is insisting it will approve to help the security forces in their fight against crime.

The caution from social anthropologist and violence researcher Dr Herbert Gayle, and Horace levy, a board member of the Peace Management Initiative, follows the imposition of a curfew in sections of the Kingston Western Police Division last weekend.

"It's pathetic! We need to have the intelligence to go for the people who are carrying out the vicious acts of violence," said Gayle, who has been studying violence in Jamaica and the region for more than 20 years.

The University of the West Indies, Mona lecturer pointed to research he has conducted which raises questions about the effectiveness and suitability of curfews.




"I got help to comb 28 inner-city communities (in Jamaica) with extreme violence and in no community did we find more than six per cent of young men age 15-34, who were combatants (people likely to be involved in a gang)," Gayle said.

"Let's say we have a problem of a particular group in which six per cent of them are likely to be problematic. What gives us the right to sweep all of them?" he asked. "I'm not suggesting that there's no place at all for curfews, but reliance on curfews as one of your primary modes for suppression has inherent problems."

Meanwhile, Levy says while there can be exceptional cases which require curfews, he's not convinced the situation in west Kingston now warrants one.

"A curfew is not a routine measure. It hampers the community. I would caution against the too-prompt use of curfews. I find it a bit strange that there was one in west Kingston when shooting was not at a high level," he told The Gleaner.

Data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force show that in the Kingston Western Police Division, serious and violent crimes fell by seven per cent over the period January 1 to June 4, when compared with the similar period for 2015.

Levy says the Government has to be careful that it does not begin to extensively use curfews, which are known to have a negative impact on the relationships between citizens and the security forces.




Meanwhile, in response to the concerns, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of state in the national security ministry, told The Gleaner that the Government was being 'responsive' in supporting a west Kingston curfew.

"We are now under exceptional circumstances and one of the things which we have to do is to treat with the situation we have now as urgent," he said.

"If the police say to us that they require X and Y to efficiently carry out their duties, it is the approach of the minister of national security, and other members of this ministry, to see that we supply them as effectively as we can so that they can execute their duties sufficiently."

JCF data show an overall 10 per cent reduction in most categories of serious and violent crimes for the period January 1-June 4 this year.

This comes against the backdrop of an almost 20 per cent increase in murders - the principal crime data - for 2015, when compared with figures for the previous year.