Charge Those Groups for Sedition
Observer, November 25, 2004
Over the past decade we have witnessed the rise of the
so-called “human rights” groups and lobbyists selecting the state and the
police force as target of their venom. I am aware that some of these groups
have professional activists.
Their aim includes harassing the state in return for
finance from international human rights organisations. They enable
international groups to dictate to sovereign governments and their people how
to conduct themselves.
The report presented by the foreign organisation blasted
the government and the police for condoning criminal acts and discriminatory
behaviour. I condemn this group and its local accomplices for deliberately
maligning the police and the state.
The report by Human Rights Watch “accused the
government and the police force of turning a blind eye to the rampant abuse of
homosexual males and persons living with HIV/AIDS”. The local accomplices of
the international grouping are calling for an independent body to investigate
I note with concern the tactics of using unsubstantiated
charges to attack a sovereign government and people. We as Jamaicans and the
police in particular condemn the continuous and illegal interference by
international interest groups who have no understanding of the culture of this
We must not be held responsible for a culture that was
imposed upon us by a colonial regime. We are also guided by our Christian
principles, which we accept as good moral values.
The government and the police cannot be held responsible
for either the careless liaisons by homosexuals or the cultural responses of
the population towards gays. As law enforcement officers we try our utmost
“to serve, to reassure and to protect”. We recognise also that the
constitution of this country has its defects.
Equally, we recognise that it is the right of the
Jamaican people to challenge these defects. I condemn the role of these
so-called “human rights” groups to spread lies and deliberately malign and
slander the police force and the government.
Enough is enough; we are calling on the Minister of
Justice to examine these allegations and slap on sedition charges where
necessary to both foreign and local agents of provocation.
Sergeant David White
Public Relations officer
Jamaica Police Federation
Sergeant White’s Letter Is Offensive
Observer, November 28, 2004
The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights and
Jamaicans for Justice take grave exception to the comments and accusations
made by Sergeant David White of the Police Federation in a letter published in
the Jamaica Observer of Thursday, November 25, 2004.
These comments are particularly disturbing coming from a
serving member of the JCF, and an official representative of the Police
The entire tone and content of Sgt White’s letter is
offensive and unworthy of a senior representative of the federation, beginning
with his opening paragraph when he speaks of the “rise of the so-called
‘human rights’ groups and lobbyists”.
He then accuses local human rights groups of joining with
international human rights groups to “spread lies and deliberately malign
the police force and government” and calls on the “minister of justice to
examine these allegations and slap on sedition charges where necessary to both
foreign and local agents of provocation”.
The Jamaican Constitution, which the Government as well
as the members of the police force are sworn to uphold, protects freedom of
expression, association and conscience, and we take very seriously the seeming
recommendation by a police organisation that these freedoms be curtailed.
Sedition is conduct or language inciting people to
rebellion against the constituted authority in a state, and we challenge Sgt
White to identify what in the language or conduct of human rights groups he
sees as incitement to rebellion against the Government.
Sgt White should also be aware of the principle that it
is not for the minister to decide on the prosecution of persons, and it gives
us great concern that a person in such a responsible position should believe
that these decisions ought to be made by politicians.
Sgt White also accuses international groups of
“continuous and illegal interference”, and we call on him to identify what
are the laws that he believes are being broken by groups such as Human Rights
We would remind Sgt White, the Police Federation and the
Government of Jamaica that we are signatories to many United Nations
instruments and treaties which acknowledge the universality of human rights,
the obligation of the Government to protect and promote these rights (both
locally and internationally), and which impose reporting obligations on the
situation of these rights on the Government.
Jamaica has had a proud record of upholding the
universality of human rights, irrespective of national sovereignty, as in when
we led the fight to isolate the sovereign South African Government because of
its policy of Apartheid which infringed the human rights of the majority Black
population. In that case we, quite rightly, spoke up for the rights of
citizens of a sovereign state, against a sovereign government, acknowledging
that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.
Sgt White’s letter also contains many other instances
of offensive language, and ridiculous statements such as “Their aim includes
harassing the state in return for finance from international human rights
organisations”, and his use of the term “accomplices” to describe local
human rights groups.
The police force is the beneficiary of financial support
from foreign governments and organisations but should not be tainted by that
We urge the Police Federation, and the Government of
Jamaica to respond publicly and promptly to Sgt White’s letter,
disassociating themselves from this inflammatory call for the laying of
sedition charges, which, it appears, is based on ignorance of local and
international law, the Constitution of Jamaica and the rights of all human
Failure to do so may give the dangerous impression that
the Government finds these views of Sgt White to be acceptable.
Jamaicans For Justice
Lloyd Barnett (Dr)
Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights
The Sergeant Does a Disservice to Himself and Police Credibility
Observer, November 28, 2004
We consider that Sgt David White does a disservice to
himself and to the credibility of rank and file police in his letter appearing
in your November 25, 2004 edition. He was expressing his apparent outrage at
allegations made by Human Rights Watch in a recently-launched publication.
We remind Sgt White of advice given to him in a June 2,
2004 Observer editorial titled “No time for grandstanding, Sgt White”. The
editor wrote: “We would suggest that Sgt White climb down from the dais, end
the posturing and enter into a serious, measured, reasoned and practical
negotiation on behalf of his constituents. The process has to be credible for
it to be sustainable.”
We believe that a “serious, measured, reasoned”
approach in this instance would require awaiting independent investigations of
the allegations made in the document published by Human Rights Watch.
The business of policing is far too important to be lost
in Sgt White’s emotive references to human rights activists as
“accomplices” who ought to be charged with sedition for attacks on the
Government and the people.
We hope Sgt White will not be too long diverted from the
many serious challenges faced by rank and file police. For example, police
performance suffers when cops are burdened by inadequate pay, long working
hours, limitations of resources, the appalling state of many police stations,
and the presence of corrupt and brutal elements in the police force.
The case for improved conditions of service (where
resources are scarce) is likely to be enhanced if the public perceives the
police force as credible.
The police deserve the quality of leadership that will
bring the public, including the human rights groups, into partnership with the
police force to solve crime. On the other hand, injudicious and intemperate
statements seem construed to harden positions of “us” against “them”.
Jamaica’s escalating levels of crime and violence
indicate the urgency of engaging in rational dialogue rather than verbal abuse
when disagreements occur.
We trust Sgt White can be persuaded to represent the
interests of rank and file police, not by seeking to limit democratic
freedoms, but by seeking to ensure that all civilians can trust the police to
respect their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Yvonne McCalla Sobers
Families Against State Terrorism
AI Urges Police to Reaffirm Commitment to Equal Protection for All
Observer, December 2, 2004
I am writing to express Amnesty International’s grave
concern at the recent accusation by the Police Federation that the legitimate
work of human rights organisations constitutes “illegal activity” and
amounts to an attempt to overthrow the government of Jamaica (sedition). Such
comments are an attack on freedom of speech and run counter to the Jamaican
In a letter published on November 25, Sergeant David
White, the Police Federation’s public relations officer, accused
international and domestic human rights groups of harassing the state. He
alleged that they “spread lies and deliberately malign and slander the
police force and the government”. He also stated that their activities
amount to “illegal interference”, but did not specify which laws had been
Sergeant White also stated in this letter that “the
government and the police cannot be held responsible for the cultural response
of the population towards gays”.
It is deeply concerning that these comments could be
interpreted as condoning acts of violence or threats against gay men and
women, and may constitute a veiled threat by the police to withhold protection
to the gay community. The organisation calls upon the Jamaican police to
explicitly reaffirm their commitment to provide equal protection to all
sections of society regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor.
Amnesty International calls on the Police Federation to
withdraw these remarks and requests that the Jamaican authorities ensure that
those who defend human rights can continue their legitimate work without fear,
by explicitly stating their support for such activities, guaranteeing the
required protection and by ensuring that those who threaten human rights
defenders are held accountable.
Amnesty International Steps Into Jamaican
Homophobia Row - November 29, 2004
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