Tek sleep mark death!Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The recent move by the Jamaica Constabulary Force to arrest a pastor under the cybercrime legislation for language used in videos online deemed to be “threatening”, coupled with the string of heavy-handed COVID-19 restrictions, along with the recent action of the current Administration to amend the Disaster Risk Management Act to allow the prime minister to unilaterally create criminal offences thereunder with a maximum one-year imprisonment sentence or a fine of up to $1 million, gives cause for pause.
Is there a burgeoning trend within the present Administration towards autocratic tendencies, the infringing of constitutional rights, and the abandonment of established policies and procedures?
Will Jamaica look closer to a totalitarian State post-novel coronavirus pandemic?
These are legitimate questions which must be considered.
History teaches us that crises are frequently exploited by governments with particular tendencies to force through sweeping legislative, cultural, and other societal changes which, under normal conditions, would have been met with healthy scepticism and opposition.
We must be careful, as a people, in the desire to address the current crisis, to not unwittingly surrender future rights and freedoms.
We must ask questions, demand accountability, and require that State actions be and remain proportionate and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.
In the words of the Jamaican proverb: “Tek sleep mark death!”
Our prime minister is no stranger to constitutional challenges. Perhaps in the coming days, as citizens contemplate, there will be a few more.
S J Campbell
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