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PSOJ pitches for resumption of states of public emergency 


The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has reported that there have been at least 47 murders committed in Jamaica since the start of 2022, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) said in a new release on Friday.

The organisation said based on the continued surge in serious crimes, “it would be prudent to implement enhanced measures to curtail and cauterise the extremely high levels of crime that the country faces.”

The PSOJ reiterated that it previously stated its support for the implementation of states of public emergency (SOPE) as a short to medium-term tool to aid in the crime reduction and crime-fighting tactics by the security forces.

The group said it is reiterating that position “with the amendment to include the Emergency Powers Review Tribunal (EPRT) for SOPEs.”

The PSOJ cited that with previous iterations of the SOPEs, a major judicial concern included potential abrogation of the rights of citizens predominantly through an extended period of detention without charge.

With the implementation of the tribunal, the PSOJ said the three-member body would be mandated to perform a compulsory review of a person’s detention or restriction of movement within seven days, whether an objection has been raised by the person. This, the PSOJ said, would allow for the security forces to make a case against the person to the tribunal.

In seemingly presenting what it considers a workable overall arrangement for the reintroduction of SOPEs in crime-ridden parishes nationally, the PSOJ said “Once a review has been done, the relevant authority shall comply with the directions given by the tribunal. If the detention or restriction is subject to a continuation, another review would be carried out in intervals of six weeks before the tribunal. The maximum period under which a person may be detained or restricted is for 90 days.

The PSOJ urged that the operationalisation of the tribunal be implemented in full accordance with the rights afforded to all citizens under the law, saying “With this amendment and provision, the implementation of SOPEs, where necessary, is bolstered to work in unison with other aspects of the country’s crime plan.”

In addition to enhanced security measures, the PSOJ pivoted other pillars of critical importance to a successful overall crime fight nationally.

Those include:

Modernisation and reform of the JCF
Updating relevant legislations
Social and community transformation
Correctional reform
Border control

The business grouping said the impact of crime is unarguably far-reaching, and has direct impacts on the business community, including increased costs of operations, security costs, hindrance in the implementation of more shifts for employees due to possible exposure to criminal elements, and the trauma for employees and their families living in crime-riddled communities.

The PSOJ said it is estimated that the cost to address crime amounts to five per cent of the country’s national gross domestic product (GDP), and concluded that “It is our hope that when residents ask for SOPEs to be implemented, that the Government and Opposition will act in the best interest of the citizenry.”

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