Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Montague says no bail - Security minister wants persons charged with gun crimes to serve mandatory minimum sentence

Published:Monday | November 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Montague ... When I bring that bill to Parliament, we going to say, if you charge with a gun crime, no bail.

Minister of National Security Robert Montague yesterday told Labourites at the National Arena in Kingston that he would shortly bring to Parliament legislation to deny bail to individuals charged with gun crimes, and if convicted, they would not be fined, but face mandatory 15-20 years prison sentences.

Montague, who is chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has resurrected the view expressed by Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte, who, in her presentation to the Sectoral Debate in July, said that to successfully tackle the murder problem, some fundamental rights and freedoms may have to abrogated, abridged, or infringed.

Montague's pronouncement yesterday was another move by the Government to stem the national bloodletting, which has seen an increase in murders in nearly all police divisions and more than 1,300 lives already snuffed out since the start of 2017.

"We are moving to tighten our gun laws because in 84 per cent of all crimes in Jamaica, the gun is present, and we don't make guns in Jamaica. So we are going to tighten the gun laws. And when I take a law to Parliament, I want you, the Labourites, to stand with us, and we will find out if the other people dem a guh stand wid us, too, because everything we do that is good, dem oppose us," Montague told cheering Labourites.

 

CHALLENGES PROSPERITY ROAD

 

Montague said that the party and the Government were working hard to make sure that prosperity reached everyone but admitted that there were challenges.

"One of the challenges is the issue of crime. And we know that crime never start last night, it never start last week, it never start on the 25th of February, 2016 (date of the general election which the JLP won). But we in the Labour party will deal with the matter of crime, and we are starting to deal with the matter of crime," said the JLP chairman, adding that 795 illegal weapons and 21,000 rounds of illegal ammunition were also seized by the security forces.

"When I bring that bill to Parliament, we going to say, if you charge with a gun crime, no bail. No bail. Because so far this year, 143 Jamaicans have been murdered by men who are on bail for other charges. With the new law, no bail. We going to put it in law that if you are caught with a gun, there will be a mandatory minimum sentence that you know when you get convicted, no fine. You going to tan a prison fi 15-20 years," he told the Labourites.

Montague said that he hoped for support from the opposition People's National Party but bemoaned that after meeting with the party officers on the issue, he had yet to get a response despite writing and calling.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com