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State of emergency is the 'absolute right thing' - diaspora representative

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) preparing a Base Camp in Norwood, St James on the second day of the state of emergency for St James.

Head of the Jamaica Diaspora Crime Intervention and Prevention Task Force, Rupert Francis, says that the Government did the "absolute right thing" in declaring a state of emergency for St James.

He told The Gleaner yesterday that there was overarching support for the move to arrest the runaway murder rate in the parish that has come to be known as the lotto scam and murder capital of Jamaica.

"Right now, it is the best thing the Government could have done. We in the diaspora support this move 150 per cent," Francis said.

He said that while there are some naysayers, checks with various groups in the United States, Canada and England indicated overwhelming support in understanding the need to bring crime under control.




Francis noted a number of initiatives on the table to assist the Government in the fight against crime. Some 1,354 people were murdered in 2016, and it got worse last year with the number increasing to 1,616.

Montego Bay, regarded as the Mecca of Jamaica's tourist product, recorded a frightening 335 murders in 2017, up from 269 the previous year.

"There is no way, as Jamaicans, though living outside the country of our birth, [we] could sit idly by while criminals and those funding them run amok, destroying our country and heritage. Something had to be done, and this is the result," Francis noted.

A number of initiatives are on the table, according to Francis, which includes:

- Assisting the courts clear up backlogs while helping to streamline the process of how information moves from a police report to the courts.

- The Safe Cities Initiatives, which brings together social intervention programmes, conflict resolution, skills training and sports.

- The establishing of the Intelligence Fusion Centre, which collates information from all security agencies under a single umbrella to make investigations easier.

- Acquiring closed-circuit TV for use in the major towns across Jamaica.