#diGDebate: Curtail Jamaicans’ Civil Liberties?

On Sunday, January 8, 2017, The Sunday Gleaner published an opinion column by Ian Boyne titled ‘Is Holness Tough Enough?‘. Boyne used his column to call on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to have the courage to implement the extraordinary measures he believes are required to eradicate Jamaica’s crime problem (“have the guts to implement them in  the interest of Jamaica and  its future”).

Boyne said, among other things:

“I  am not calling for extra-judicial killings or police abuses. But I am calling for locking down certain communities, locking away certain known crime perpetrators; going into homes without search warrants and stopping vehicles on the road. Curtail some of my civil liberties in the interest of all. You can’t have human rights if there is not a viable state.  We cannot allow Jamaica to become a failed state and to let our prospects for economic growth evaporate before our eyes because our  politicians and  chattering classes  are cowards. Enough  is enough!”

Supporting points

It didn’t take long for the responses to start pouring in, and on the same Sunday that Boyne’s column was published, The Gleaner’s website carried a story saying that there seemed to be large support for his call to curtail civil liberties:

Dissenting voices

By the next day, Monday, January 9, 2017, an article was carried citing opposition for Boyne’s suggestion from Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, human rights activist Horace Levy, and defence lawyer and former attorney general Patrick Atkinson. Harrison Henry was quoted as saying: “crime-fighting measures will not succeed if people’s rights are disregarded”.

Others took to social media to voice their agreement/disagreement with Boyne. The issue was discussed on TVJ’s All Angles (Wednesday, January 11, 2017) and Earl Moxam’s That’s A Rap (Sunday, January 15, 2017), fuelling even further debates. In response to dissenters, Boyne wrote yet another column on the issue on Sunday, January 15.

“My point is simple: When you have 1,350 murders in 2016 and 35 by January 11; when the most fundamental human right – the right to life – is so egregiously trampled, you are not in ordinary times. Except we want to normalise deviance. You have to adopt short-term measures to cauterise the mayhem.”

On Sunday, January 29, 2017, former minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, added his voice to the discussion, stating, “I believe that you can be strong on crime and also strong on human rights.”

What was being said on Twitter (in summary)

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