It bewilders me that as a country we have reached the point at which we are having steamy debates as to whether Jamaica's crime rate constitutes an emergency. We can predict the nightly news — elderly folks robbed and killed; domestic dispute resulted in fatal killing; children and teenage girls, and boys too, molested; bar shot up, leading to multiple deaths and injuries; etc.
If those incidents do not touch our core, then the multiple slayings of the nation's babies and children must evoke a deep sense of anger within us. Imagine the two schoolboys who were shot up in a taxi while returning home from school last week Thursday!
With Jamaica being one of the highest ranked countries in the Caribbean and Latin America for homicides, how can crime not be considered an emergency? We often praise the country and the people. We have excelled at so many things both locally and internationally; however, we always conclude that the country would be much better if the crime situation were better managed. Of course, we also maintain that better management of the country's affairs from a political and socio-economic perspective would also yield even greater results.
Both government and Opposition members have been at odds about how to combat the crime monster that has been plaguing our beloved country for decades. Every now and again they condemn barbaric acts and call for a bipartisan approach on crime fighting. If they truly care, why hasn't much been done to curb crime and violence? Is it that one party prefers to see the demise of the country instead of its prosperity?
Even some legal luminaries and civil society groups believe we are not facing a crisis. They cite clauses and play on semantics to justify their stance. But those families who have lost their innocent children and loved ones to acts of violence know what is at stake. And even if the perpetrator is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, this will not lead to the resurrection of the victim — at least not in this current earthly life. Besides, we cannot depend on Jamaicans for Justice to sympathise with the innocent victims. As it appears, they seem much quicker to empathise with criminals than with law-abiding citizens.
Understandably, there is a place for civil society and human rights groups. Balance is needed to allow our democracy to thrive. Criticism and accountability are also important. However, more and more these groups operate as though they are more entitled and want to dictate to the Government how to handle every affair. Perhaps if media houses stopped giving them space they would stop gaslighting us.
Those of us who want to see the back of crime are open to some restrictions and limitations; it is not only those who live in privileged quarters of the society, as it is often perceived. But maybe these groups will be more connected to the ordinary person's pain when an act of terror reaches their doorsteps.