Security issues have been weighing heavily on us recently, and our relatively new Minister of National Security is seeking to find a way to make fundamental changes. “Band-aids” are easy to apply, but soon fall off. As I have noted in this blog many times before, serious and long-term reform is needed, and the sooner we start, the better. I share JFJ’s view that the Holness administration’s plan to transform the Jamaica Constabulary Force is not only “long overdue,” – but welcome. Better late than never. We now await action!
Here is JFJ’s press release…
November 22, 2016
Jamaicans for Justice Welcomes Plan to Reform Policing Legislation
Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) welcomes the plan to legislatively reform the Jamaica Constabulary Force by replacing the current, antiquated legislation, The Constabulary Force Act (1935) with a new Police Service Act by October, 2017. The government’s plan, mentioned in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies submitted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is long overdue, and if properly implemented could bring about the paradigm shift in policing that is urgently needed. The details of such legislation will be essential in determining the type and extent of the reform that takes place.
If a transformation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is really to be achieved, it will obviously require much more than a name change. The full range and depth of the necessary measures cannot be dealt with in this press release. However, certain objectives should guide the reform. For example:
· Replacement of the existing paramilitary force paradigm by that of a modern police service
· A clearly incorporated commitment to policing in a human rights framework
· Restructuring the JCF’s top-heavy hierarchy to achieve efficient management
· Replacement of Mobile Reserve by a SWAT squad excluded from community patrolling
· Firm commitment to accountability under a civilian supervisory body
JFJ urges the government to engage in a thorough and inclusive consultation with the people of Jamaica and all the relevant stakeholders. Occasions for input both before and after the drafting of the legislation must be provided. The stated commitment is admirable, but deliberate action is demanded before the proposed October, 2017 completion date. The proposed review offers an opportunity for profound transformation of one of Jamaica’s vital state entities. We must not miss this opportunity, which has implications for so many aspects of life for Jamaica and its people.
For further information contact: Horace Levy, Executive Director: (876) 337-3390
Rodje Malcolm, Advocacy Manager: (876) 329-0320
Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ)
2 Fagan Avenue, Kingston 8