The Tambourine Army, an activist group focused on the elimination of sexual abuse against women and girls in Jamaica says it is disappointed at the arrest and charge of one of their co-founders, Latoya Nugent. The following is their statement to the press:
"We witnessed with horror and trepidation the Jamaican state exert intimidation in the process of the arrest of Latoya Nugent. We urge state actors to remember specifically that according to sections of the Jamaica’s Constitution, Chapter 3: Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, each citizen has (h) “the right to equitable and humane treatment by any public authority in the exercise of any function”; and (j) the right to protection from search of the person and property.
"We find the charges to be a clear attempt on the part of the State to silence a human rights advocate who has dedicated her efforts to fighting for the rights of the Jamaican girl child and the survival of the Jamaican woman. Latoya Nugent’s arrest sends a chilling statement to women who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse and who are now willing to step forward and say the name of their perpetrators.
"The Tambourine Army notes the statement made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on March 8, 2017, where he stated clearly that men must leave women alone. We are asking the state to not allow itself to become the personal weapon of any one citizen, in this particular case the charge levelled against Ms. Nugent is an overreach.
"As women’s rights activists and human rights defenders we find that the Jamaican state is firmly located in a moral dilemma. The use of the Cyber Crimes Act to silence Ms. Nugent and the Tambourine Army is a clear inappropriate use of the police and the law. Further, the state has a responsibility to protect Human Rights Defenders. Human Rights Defenders hold a special place in any democracy and the quality of our democracy is dependent on our ability and willingness to protect Human Rights Defenders such as Latoya Nugent. When the state abandons this responsibility and itself becomes a perpetrator of abuse of Human Rights Defenders then the very fibre of our democracy is called to question.
"We ask the Jamaican state to look again at its actions and to take the necessary steps to ensure that Ms. Nugent is returned to her home safe and sound."