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Opposition wants data on SOE successes

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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OPPOSITION spokesman on national security Fitz Jackson says he expects that the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament will get some answers on the tangible impact of the state of emergency (SOE), which has been declared across several police divisions over the past nine months.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Sunday declared sections of three more divisions – Kingston Central, St Andrew South and Kingston Western – under SOE. This is in addition to St Catherine North and St James. In an interview with the Jamaica Observer following the prime minister's announcement, Jackson said the Government has not been forthcoming with hard evidence that the SOE is an effective crime-fighting measure.“I have no information to indicate that any effective investigation is taking place to apprehend persons who have been responsible for the murders and the shootings throughout the country over time. That is reinforced by the fact that there is no data to tell you what successes they are having. We have asked for the information and they have not provided it to us. I hope that in the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament we will be examining the operations of the SOE, we will get some kind of information. For example, what are the indicators of success of a state of emergency so that you can determine when it will come to an end… if there are any, we are not aware of it and they have refused to share it with us. So you don't know on what basis a state of emergency should continue or end,” Jackson argued.

Representatives of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force and the Ministry of National Security are expected to attend today's meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee at Gordon House in downtown Kingston.

In the meantime, the Opposition spokesman argued that what is being indicated by the additional declarations and the extensions of the enhanced security measures is that only in a continued state of emergency can citizens have a sense of safety.

“I don't subscribe to Jamaica becoming a police state because of the incapacity of the government to develop strategies to deal with crime and violence. In other societies where you've had high levels of murders and shootings, Governments have taken steps to reduce those while permitting the citizens to enjoy their freedom.

“We are not into the creation of a dictatorial society. We are not into the creation of a military state and, after nine months, that is seemingly the direction that the Government is heading,” he asserted.

Jackson said, too, that another concern, based on information and observation, is that the SOE is more in form than substance as many of the checkpoints are only manned for limited hours.

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