Freedom from fearSunday, April 11, 2021
AS many of you may be aware, I have been offered and have accepted a renewal of my contract to serve as Jamaica's commissioner of police for a second term. This contract will be my final one and will last for three years. Many of you have been asking questions and are curious as to why I have accepted the renewal, so I thought it might be useful for me to share the single and simple reason — I have dedicated my life to making Jamaica a safer place.
For over 35 of my 57 years on this Earth I have been a public servant and swore to uphold our constitution and the rights of the Jamaican people. Some have said it is a futile task, and that I am simply playing the role of Sisyphus rolling the proverbial boulder up a hill, but I disagree.
I can testify that there has been significant progress made and this has bolstered my faith that my granddaughter will be able to live in a Jamaica — without fear.
Freedom from fear is what we all deserve. We are a strong, proud people who have thrown off the yoke of our oppressors, including the slave master and colonisers throughout our history. Yet, despite Emancipation and Independence, we are still not fully free, and we will never be fully free until we are free from fear.
Our right to “life, liberty and security of the person” has been enshrined in our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, but that first right remains hollow when over 1,000 of our fellow Jamaicans have been murdered each year for over two decades. The majority of these atrocities are being committed by predators armed with illegal firearms, while law-abiding citizens are forced to live caged lifestyles behind burglar bars and sleep under their beds.
The rights of the majority of Jamaicans to freedoms to which we are “entitled to by virtue of [our] inherent dignity as persons and citizens of a free and democratic society” are being curtailed daily by this small percentage of our population, less than 0.1 per cent, who are marauders bent on disrupting the society to further their criminal agenda.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is an organisation that I am proud to lead, and we are making great strides in being the “force for good” that it must be in order for Jamaica to operate safely and effectively.
The JCF enforces the laws and regulations legislated by Parliament, and the judiciary metes out the penalties based on those same laws when the accused is brought to court. When the penalty is custodial, the Department of Corrections is responsible for the incarceration and rehabilitation of the convicted for the duration of their mandated sentence. This division of duty may not be apparent to everyone; however, in order for the State to protect the society, all four must work in tandem. The wider public always has the right to support and/or admonish the work that we do, so it is imperative that they are kept apprised so they can make informed decisions and commentary.
I fully believe, as is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, that “the State has an obligation to promote universal respect for, and observance of human rights and freedoms”, but also that “all persons are under a responsibility to respect and uphold the rights of others recognised in this chapter...” This applies to all individuals, every single one of us; not just the elected officials, not just the security forces, not just the judiciary…all of us.
In order for those who deserve it to truly enjoy their freedom, it must be necessary to restrict those who wish to do them harm. There is no alternative. The prey and the predator cannot coexist peacefully side by side. If one chooses to pick up an illegal firearm, if one chooses to hurt another, if one chooses to abduct and rape, then the consequences must be swift and dire. We must reverse who it is that looks out on Jamaica from behind bars. It should not be the innocent hiding in their homes, but the incarcerated criminals.
Let us focus, as a united front, working hard to create a Jamaica where we are free from fear.
I am committed to leading the JCF for another three years on this mission. We can all play our part in being a force for good. It can happen, and you have my solemn commitment to do everything in my power to make it achievable.
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