Gov't sending wrong message with ongoing state of emergency - Jackson
Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson, said the government is conveying a message that “crime reduction goes hand in hand with a military/police operation on an ongoing basis.”
Jackson made the allegation Wednesday as the House of Representatives debated and passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency in the St Catherine North division by a further three months to January.
It was first imposed on March 18 and has since been extended several times, with Government pointing to a 68 per cent reduction in the collective number of murders and shootings over the period of the intervention.
“What we are having now, which is of concern to me personally, is that crime reduction means state of emergency. It means an unusual and ongoing presence of military and the police in order to reduce crime and violence. That is one of the concerns we (the Opposition) have,” said Jackson.
"What price do we have to pay to achieve that?,” Jackson asked. “We said at the early stage when we approved the first extension without any reservation… tell us what your medium to long term plan is. We have asked for it then, we’re not asking anew, we’re yet to get that.”
He again lamented that the Government has refused to provide the Opposition with pertinent information for it to assess the success of the emergency measure. Describing the state of emergency as a “cooling off period” that gives the security forces enhanced powers, Jackson appealed for information such as the number of weapons seized, the persons arrested and the types of crime for which they are charged.
He pointed to crime statistics that show that in 2018, just under 8,000 guns and ammunition have been seized compared to more than 14,000 for the corresponding period in 2017.
“That means it’s a significant reduction in our success to get hold of the weapons that contribute to the murders and the shootings. Those are the kind of information we need to look at to see what we’re achieving.”
Jackson cautioned that the persons who are responsible for committing murders are still out there …"and we have no sense of us going into a state of sustainable crime reduction.”
He also suggested that the Opposition would be in a position to better support the Government if it is presented with better information.
“We can’t just come and just clap and cheer every time you come and ask for an extension with no basis of giving that support,” Jackson stated.