Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness says the Government takes the role of protecting the rights of all citizens seriously.
He noted that in dealing with the incidence of crime, the government is ensuring that there will be justice for all.
“If it is that we are truly seeking justice in order to get peace, then it can’t be justice for just some. It must be justice for all, because when we truly start to prosecute all crimes, when we truly start to look at all the infractions and not make exceptions because of status, connection, power or influence, that is when we truly have the rule of law,” Prime Minister Holness sated.
He was speaking at the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica St. James Chapter Annual Awards Banquet at the Hilton Hotel, in Montego Bay on January 27.
Prime Minister Holness stated that through the State of Public Emergency in St. James, the Government has taken deliberate action to address crime and to place the safety of the public above all else.
“As a nation, we are now trying to rebuild the trust between the citizens and the security forces. The State of Emergency is giving us that opportunity to hit that reset button,” he argued.
He noted however that while he is not expecting the State of Public Emergency to be a panacea, he believes that it will provide an opportunity to deal with the ‘hierarchy of criminality’.
“If we are going to deal with criminality, we must deal with it at all levels, so yes the pinnacle of the criminal pyramid is the crime of murder but if you consider it, it is supported by all types of other crimes going down to the base and the base of course, sometimes… is the simple public order infractions,” he noted.
He highlighted that in dealing with crime, there has to be mutual trust between the security forces and residents.
“Once we can assure the country that our police force is acting and providing due process; that in itself, elevates the level of justice in the country and if we get the country to that stage where every Jamaican citizen can believe that the state will give them due process then they won’t feel the need … to defend their own justice,” Prime Minister Holness stated.
“That is ultimately what we are working for and that is ultimately [the] role of the Justice of the Peace (JP), [to] increase the justice and we will increase the peace,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister lauded the St. James JPs for their continuous work and enthusiasm in executing their duties and ensuring that justice has been preserved at the local level especially during the recent Zones of Special Operations which was declared in Mt. Salem and the ongoing State of Public Emergency.