Editorial

Professor Trevor Munroe's truth

Tuesday, June 22, 2010    

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The view expressed by Professor Trevor Munroe that the "powerful sign" and "signal indicator" of a resignation by Prime Minister Bruce Golding — as prescribed by Mr A J Nicholson — would weaken the current momentum in the drive against crime will, no doubt, not sit well with the politically partisan.

But the cold, hard fact is that Professor Munroe spoke a truth that all right-thinking Jamaicans, we are sure, would immediately appreciate.

There is absolutely no doubt that since the security forces' May 24 operation in Tivoli Gardens the organised criminal network in the country has been in retreat and, for the first time in decades, is cowering in fear.

That's how it should be, and that is why we endorse any initiative that gives support to the effort to dismantle criminal gangs, so long as the security forces, in that effort, demonstrate respect for human rights and are guided by the rule of law.

For, as we have often stated in this space, all it will take is just one bad incident to erode the public support the security forces gained when they — after demonstrating much restraint — finally went into Tivoli Gardens to take that community from the iron grip of criminals.

Naturally, with any operation of this kind, there will be claims of brutality and counter-claims. Our position is that all such claims must be thoroughly investigated and where it is proven that there have been instances of abuse by police or soldiers, the guilty must be punished as prescribed by the law.

It is with that in mind that we support the setting up of an office of the Public Defender in Tivoli Gardens where all such complaints can be lodged and processed for investigation.

It would seem to us as well that this would be a good time for the police force in particular to address any concern it may now have that a few of its members may have had too close an association with the order that existed in Tivoli Gardens before the May 24 operation.

For we take the police commissioner, Mr Owen Ellington, at his word that the constabulary is committed to cleaning from its ranks corrupt persons posing as officers of the law.

We would also suggest that our legislators look beyond their political biases and act on the eminently good suggestions made by Professor Munroe in his response to Senator Nicholson which was published in last Thursday's Observer.

In our view, if implemented, they would give this country the advantage over criminals that it hasn't had for many, many years.

At the same time, Prime Minister Golding must also know that we will be holding him to account on the promises he made in his national broadcast on May 17.

Therefore, Prime Minister, we look forward especially to the appointment of a special prosecutor to fight corruption; whistleblower legislation to aid in fighting crime and corruption; fiscal responsibility legislation to exert control over the country's fiscal deficit and accumulation of debt; reform of the libel laws to enable greater transparency and accountability in government; measures to reverse the institutionalisation of political tribalism and garrisons; provisions for the impeachment of public officials; the vesting of constitutional authority in the Contractor General and Electoral Commission; laws to regulate political party financing; criminal sanctions for breaches of the award of contracts; as well as parliamentary oversight in the appointment of certain statutory positions.

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