Destroying civil liberties not the solution to crime

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Dear Editor,

There have been recent calls for the use of urgent measures for catching the criminals who are wreaking havoc on our society. The rights fundamentalists would oppose this measure, and that the politicians are essentially prevented from implementing these tough measures because they are fearful of the criticisms and pressure that human rights guardians would mount in rejecting such a move.

We are beleaguered by the problems of rampant criminality and we desperately need effective and sustainable solutions to break the insatiable desire of these murderers who perpetrate their wickedness.

However, those solutions cannot include the destruction of citizens’ civil liberties to make up for the incompetence, corruption and inefficiency of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

InR v Banner [1970] VR 240, the Australian full court said:

"[The police] have no power whatever to arrest or detain a citizen for the purpose of questioning him or of facilitating their investigations... It matters not at all whether the questioning or the investigation is for the purpose of enabling them to ascertain whether he is the person guilty of a crime known to have been committed or is for the purpose of enabling them to discover whether a crime has or has not been committed. If the police do so act in purported exercise of such a power their conduct is not only destructive of civil liberties but it is unlawful."

It would clearly be impractical, imprudent and unlawful for the security forces to hold this unfettered power which would undoubtedly engender the abuse and oppression of our rights and freedoms, and the arbitrary interference thereof, which is likely to result in further criminal actions.

In the context of the striking incompetence and gross unaccountability of the JCF, being given more power to unjustifiably restrict our liberties, without suffering the dire consequences, is sheer lunacy.

Since any restriction of our civil liberties would be unlawful, then I suggest the following:

* Create and/or enforce the policies that enable the police to conduct thorough investigations and possess probable cause before they search, arrest or detain a citizen;

* Extricate corrupt cops who are colluding with the criminals;

* Give the police the resources needed to effectively and efficiently execute their duties;

* Earn the trust of the citizens who would then be inclined to pass on useful information;

* Do more extensive undercover work to catch the criminals;

* Squatter communities must be eradicated or transformed;

* Offer incentives to the convicted criminals for information leading to the apprehension of their cronies.

These suggestions may prove effective. The fight against crime should never leave law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage.

Dujon Russell




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