Sat | Aug 19, 2017

'Talk time over!' ... Domestic violence crackdown

Published:Thursday | February 9, 2017 | 2:00 AMLivern Barrett
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) addresses the media on his crime plan at Jamaica House yesterday. With him are (from left) Chief of Defence Staff Major General Rocky Meade; Novelette Grant, acting Commissioner of police; Minister of National Security Robert Montague and Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.

Amid a slew of deadly attacks against women and young girls, the Andrew Holness administration has unveiled a number of measures that are to form part of a get-tough campaign against domestic violence.

Declaring that the time for talk is over, Holness, the prime minister, and his attorney general, Marlene Malahoo Forte, yesterday announced that as part of the measures, the police have been directed to start detaining "aggressors" in "live and imminent" domestic violence flare-ups as part of their attempts to de-escalate the situation.

Holness also directed that starting Monday, tints must be removed from all registered taxis and other public passenger vehicles and signalled that the police would begin to crack down on 'robot', or illegal, taxis.

In addition, Holness said that local law-enforcement authorities would intensify their engagement with overseas partners to ensure that they receive all information on Jamaicans being deported. "Particularly information regarding any issues to do with a sexual offence," Holness said.

"We want to know if they have been arrested but not charged with a sexual offence. We want to know if a report was made against them. And we definitely want to know if they were entered into a sexual offence registry from the deporting country, which would mean that we would automatically enter this in our sexual offence registry in Jamaica," he added.

"The Government is announcing zero tolerance to domestic violence, to sexual abuse, and to the grooming of minors," Holness insisted.

The prime minister insisted that the measures were not a knee-jerk reaction to the spate of domestics killings in recent weeks, but are initiatives that have been under consideration for some time. "Of course, by virtue of what has happened over the past few weeks, we feel that this is the right time to bring this to the public," he said.

"The time for talk is over. I am about action. We will talk later," Holness underscored.

Malahoo Forte acknowledged that the measures are likely to stir debate but insisted that the Government was confident that they conformed to the laws of Jamaica and warned that "the days of free for all are over".

"I understand that many people are going to jump up and start talking about what is and what isn't ... . We have taken the time to ensure that what we are doing fits within our legal and constitutional framework," she said.

"Be at ease. It doesn't matter how tough any measure that is announced sounds. We are ensuring that those measures comply with the Constitution and the laws of Jamaica," said Malahoo Forte as she defended the use of preventative detention in domestic violence situations.