Amnesty International (AI) has released its 2005 report. It has nothing new to say regarding Jamaica – our police kill with impunity, we murder gays and lesbians, men rape and murder women and girls etcetera. Nothing new, but all true.
"Unspeakable Truths: Facing the Challenge of Truth Commissions" (Priscilla B. Hayner)
The responses have been predictable – Jamaicans for Justice and other human rights organizations have added their voices to AI's call for change….………
A.J. Nicholson, our irrelevant Attorney General, has complained that he has been prosecuting policemen right, left and centre and AI is unreasonable to expect convictions as well…..
Let's recall that it is not the business of AI to give prizes for progress. Inasmuch as the things they measure – namely extra-judicial killings – have NOT declined, they do not need to congratulate us on the things that have changed, namely:-
Murder rates are down since last year.
Three dons – Andem, Richie Poo and Zekes – have been tried, convicted and are now serving long sentences. (Unfortunately, others – Bulbie, Andrew Hope, Chen Chen – were shot to death by policemen or citizens unknown….)
High profile policemen (Reneto Adams) and high profile citizens (Danhai Williams) have been before the courts, even if this has not resulted in jail sentences. (Remember Danhai Williams telling the BBC that he could never go to jail in this here Jamaica……)
I want to predict 2 things to happen if present trends continue:-
1. As murder rates fall, and conviction rates rise, policemen will start to be convicted for extra-judicial killings. A populace, and a judiciary, numbed by years of violence, have given and will continue to give the police the benefit of doubt. Once the justice system restores public confidence by locking up murderers, thieves and rapists, look for juries to be willing to lock up a few policemen…..
2. As the Mark Shields/Scotland Yard method of policing is increasingly effective, look to hear less "bigging up" of thugs and killers in police uniform (Yes, Reneto Adams, I mean you…..). Also look to Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Yvonne McCalla Sobers and Amnesty International to start getting the respect from the local politicians and political pundits that their work already commands internationally. (This may, of course, be wishful thinking on the part of one who could quite happily never hear from A.J. Nicholson again……)
Here's hoping that in the same way that Amnesty International and our local human rights groups have forced the Government of Jamaica to make a serious effort to deal with crime in a legal and democratic manner (as opposed to the methods used in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), the recent success of the JET and the NJCA in exposing the craven incompetence of the government environmental protection agencies with respect to the hotel development at Pear Tree Bottom, will force the Government to start protecting our reefs, beaches and (is it too much to ask ?) the rights of Jamaicans to enjoy our beautiful island……
Bottom line: Whether we're talking about crime or hotels, it's all about the environment.
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (Sergio Leone)
"Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International" (Stephen Hopgood)