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15/06/2010 | Jamaica - The importance of restoring law and order

Editorial

THE article 'Tough road ahead for Tivoli's Transformation' in yesterday's Sunday Observer should be a must-read for everyone.

 

It provides valuable insights regarding the thought processes of residents for whom the State has long lost relevance and legitimacy, but who must now come to terms with its power following the security forces' operation of late May in quest of fugitive Mr Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, wanted men and guns.

Note the comment from an unnamed woman: "Tivoli was OK before this. Tivoli never had any problems. Tivoli was all right the way it was ... How is now Tivoli need to be fixed when Bruce has been coming here all the while?"

And another: "When things is going on is Dudus we see, not Bruce. Tivoli is all right as it is. When he [Dudus] was doing the police work and keeping the peace nobody don't see it."

And let's not forget Tanisha, whose house was extensively damaged — allegedly by the security forces during the operation: "I've been living here for 12 years and a bad man never trouble me, and now a police come here and do it. Who should I take my chance with? We were getting more protection from the bad man than the police..."

Bewildering though it may seem to many of the rest of us, these Tivoli residents appear to see no value in the State taking what we would perceive to be its rightful place in their community.

Allegations that their don may have been involved in drugs and gunrunning across international borders are apparently of little or no consequence to them.

For them, what is important is that the don provided security, stability and succour while the State ignored their plight.

In such circumstances talk of execution-style killings of wrongdoers and torture chambers in Tivoli may have a very different meaning for the locals than it does for the rest of us.

Nor should the society make the mistake of believing that the situation in Tivoli and the wider West Kingston is unique. Anecdotal and other evidence suggest that across Kingston, St Catherine and the wider Jamaica there are communities where people of questionable credentials and repute have filled the space vacated by the State and have gained acceptance in dispensing their own brand of justice and largesse.

Much has been said about the role of our political leaders, the security forces and indeed the wider society in allowing this tragic situation to develop over a period of decades. What is beyond dispute is that as a society we have to put a stop to it. The State must reassert itself. It must move to remove the dons and criminal gangs wherever they exist and take on the leadership role in every Jamaican community.

Law-abiding Jamaicans expect the Government, the political Opposition, the very powerful business sector and so-called civil society to move in unison in assisting this process.

Jamaicans expect that properly crafted legislation required to strengthen the hand of the security forces will be speedily passed. And that priority will be placed on the provision of resources -- including that for social intervention -- to aid the anti-crime fight.

It will take time to win over those like Tanisha in Tivoli. In some cases it may never happen. But for the good of us all the process of restoring law and order must be carried through. The dons and gangs must be made to understand that their day is done in Jamaica.

Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)

 


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