Let officers assigned to SOEs focus on COVID-19 protocols, says PNP

OPPOSITION People’s National Party (PNP) spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson says that the focus of states of public emergency (SOEs) across the island should now be on restricting movement and enforcing all the other protocols, which would assist in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Jackson argued, however, that with the effectiveness of SOEs now watered down, and not meeting their objective, it is time to refocus those efforts of the security forces on the national crisis with which the country is grappling.

“The real emergency to which SOEs should apply is restricting the movement and all other necessary things to be done to contain the virus and its spread. What we need to do is more mobilise the communities to be active participants in dealing with the pandemic, both in adhering to social distancing, wearing the mask and washing of hands, and all other practices that can functionally help to curtail the spread of the virus,” he said in a Jamaica Observer interview yesterday.

The Opposition spokesman pointed out that with murders, now closing in on the 500 mark, and more than 500 shootings year to date, the crime rate is at the same level that it was last year, despite eight police divisions being under SOEs.

“There are literally no check points being manned, and any being manned is minimal. It is merely a facade, the daily murders that are taking place across the country are predominantly in SOE areas, which confirms that the SOEs aren’t making any difference in halting or reducing the level of murders taking place,” Jackson said. He stressed that the measures under the SOEs, which have caused the suspension of civil liberties and rights of ordinary Jamaicans, isn’t bringing the results.

He said that far more people have been killed since March 10, when Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVID-19, than those killed by the virus. “COVID is a threat to everybody, but the murders and the threat of murders are more realistic ones. The Government speaks about the number of persons who have recovered from coronavirus (but) none of the persons who have been murdered will be able to recover,” he quipped.

— Alphea Saunders

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