PNP calls on PM to take immediate action in police, Rasta incidentTuesday, August 03, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Leader Mark Golding is calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to take immediate action to ensure full accountability in the face of allegations that a police officer recently cut off the locks of a young Rastafarian woman in a lock-up, who had been arrested for a minor petty session offence.
“The reports of this violation of Nzinga King's fundamental human rights are quite repulsive. A dangerous trend of the abuse of citizens' constitutional rights by agents of the state has emerged, which the prime minister must immediately use the full authority of his office to condemn and curtail in a forthright and resolute way,” Golding said.
“It is particularly distressing to many Jamaicans that the alleged violation of Ms King went viral on Emancipation Day, when Jamaicans were observing the anniversary of liberation from slavery. This incident harks back to the terrible events of Coral Gardens in the 1960's, when mass atrocities were committed against the Rastafari community by the then Jamaican government. It would be appalling if vestiges of this discriminatory behaviour still infect the police force in the 21st century, and all well-thinking Jamaicans must take this matter very seriously and demand justice and full accountability,” he continued.
The opposition leader was responding to social and traditional media reports surfacing on Emancipation Day that 19-year-old Nzinga King was detained at the Four Paths Police Station for a minor disturbance arising from an incident in a taxi in which she was allegedly pepper sprayed, and was then subjected to her locks being cut off while in the lock-up.
King and her mother described the ordeal in a video that has since gone viral.
“This would be the latest in a series of serious abuses of authority by members of the police force against young people. In this case, a young Rastafari woman has been allegedly subjected to a profound physical and psychological violation of her identity and core beliefs. In the other cases, young persons have been detained and taken to police stations after uttering profanities in videos criticizing the prime minister, where they have been forced by the police to make humiliating video-recorded apologies to the prime minister, which are then released to the public via social media.
“In the face of this disturbing series of events, the prime minister must be strongly proactive in ensuring that the response of the State does not end with the JCF high command issuing a correct-sounding public statement, but that there are full accountability and justice for these serious constitutional violations,” Golding said.
He added that, “I am also calling on Indecom (the Independent Commission of Investigations) to move quickly on these incidents and to make public the findings of their investigations. The country is watching and waiting. The citizens of this country cannot be expected to both trust and fear the police.”
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