We have not been silent - Human rights groups say they grieve for slain cops
Human rights groups Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) and Stand Up For Jamaica (SUFJ) have refuted claims made by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie that they have been silent on the killing of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members by thugs.
Mickel Jackson, JFJ's executive director, said her organisation has always condemned the killings of members of the security forces and offered the highest level of sympathy towards their loved ones.
"Whenever a law enforcement officer is killed while carrying out their lawful duties we see that as an attack on the state and law and order in the country. From that regard, JFJ condemns the killings of these two others and all the others that have lost their lives while putting it on the line for all Jamaican citizens. We had sent out a statement that publicly condemned this. We are not silent on this matter," she said.
McKenzie, during his speech at the Jamaica Labour Party division conference in St Andrew on Sunday, said there has hardly been any sympathy shown for Corporal Oliver Mullings and Constable Brian Martin. Mullings was killed on Third Street in Trench Town last Thursday, while Martin was killed on October 15 at a wake in the Maxfield Park community.
"I notice that only one of the so-called protectors of people's rights come out and express sympathy within the death of the two policemen. I don't hear nobody talking about the rights of the policeman. Who is going to protect the rights of his family?" McKenzie said.
Jackson stressed that JFJ has always offered its support and lobbies for members of the security forces. She also expressed her sympathy towards the relatives and loved ones of Mullings and Martin.
"While we want to hold the police accountable for them to carry out their duties with the utmost of integrity, we remain resolute that we stand with law enforcement officers as they carry out their duties. I want to dispel of any myth that may be circulating that we are silent. We have made calls for JCF officers to be equipped with non- lethal weapons and so on when they are faced with different risk levels. We have also called for psychosocial support and we have called on the Government to settle the long wage dispute. So our support over the years has been well documented," Jackson said.
SUFJ's Carla Gullotta expressed similar sentiments, stating that the organisation has always been vocal in lashing out against brutality and murder of police officers by gunmen.
"We keep hearing now and again that human rights groups defend the criminals and do not defend law-abiding people and that is exactly the opposite," she said.
"We have been sending quite an amount of condolences in press releases when members of the security [forces] die in the line of the duty, but nobody mentions them because probably no one finds them interesting...I don't know. When an officer is killed or damaged in the line of duty, they have all our sympathy. We have always supported the police force as they play a very important role, but we cannot condone those who infringe the law. So let's try to stay balanced and stick to the truth and let's try to honour the force because they have a difficult task," she said.