Human rights group concerned over new crime plans

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 14, CMC – The human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), is calling on the government to ensure that proper safeguards are put in place ahead of the implementation of the new crime plan.
In a statement, the JFJ said while it understands the need for the government to take effective measures to combat the scourge of crime and violence, “it must not simply “do something”, it must do the right thing.
“It is the public who must pay for any misstep or unlawful detention by our own police officers,” the JFJ said, making reference to the preventative detention measure, a major plant of the government’s crime-fighting plan, but which is already being criticised by the Opposition and various interests groups as a knee-jerk reaction to the spate of killings that have affected the island over the past few weeks.
“We note the recently announced concept of ‘preventative detention,’ which the attorney general has publicly opined is a lawful measure. JFJ is of the view that the concept and principles behind preventative detention may not be clearly understood by the public or all police officers. While announcing it in the domestic violence context, the Government has made clear that it will generally apply to other crimes.”
The human rights group said that for clarity it wants the Andrew Holness government to inform the public, in writing, exactly what the concept of preventative detention entails, how it is expected to work on the ground, and the legal underpinnings for the measure:
“We also ask that any guidelines that have been issued to the police in relation to how preventative detention may be utilised to deprive persons of their liberty be released to the public without delay.
“This would ensure that the public and the police are adequately advised of how it is intended that this concept of preventative detention would be implemented,” the JFJ said in the statement.
The group said that the increased powers of detention must be matched with increased safeguards, pointing to the context in which the police already operate, with complaints of breaches of existing provisions for detention.
“The JFJ, therefore, raises concerns about the safeguards that will accompany this new, enhanced measure.”
So far this year, more than 100 people have been killed and Prime Minister Holness has said that his government is moving to deal with the situation, rolling out a new crime plan.
Last year, more than 1,200 people were killed here.

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