Thu | Aug 6, 2020

Lifetime of murders - As Senate extends SOEs, Samuda casts picture of mountain of corpses

Published:Thursday | October 17, 2019 | 12:16 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

In a bid to ratchet up support for the Government’s crackdown on crime, 35-year-old government Senator Matthew Samuda painted a graphic picture of Jamaica’s murder crisis: more people than can fit in Kingston’s National Stadium have died violently during his lifetime.

The stadium accommodates a capacity crowd of around 27,000.

“Thirty-five thousand Jamaicans have been murdered during my lifetime,” he declared. “When more people that can be seated in the National Stadium have been murdered in my short lifetime, that is a state of emergency,” he insisted.

The young lawmaker argued that the assault on society being unleashed by criminal elements requires a similar approach to that used when treating with an epidemic. “The fact is we have a serious problem that requires serious solutions.”

Samuda was making his contribution to the debate on extensions to states of emergency (SOE) in five parishes. The Senate gave the nod to the resolutions, extending the SOEs in St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland, as well as Clarendon and St Catherine.

There were three abstentions when the vote was taken. Opposition senators K.D. Knight, Lambert Brown, and André Haughton abstained while 16 senators voted to extend the SOEs. Two senators were absent.

Samuda sought to defend the Government’s extensions of the SOEs amid scathing criticism from Brown, who charged yesterday that police data had revealed that more Jamaicans were killed year to date in 2019 when compared with the previous year despite more SOEs across the country.

Declaring that she felt “compromised” to vote for the extensions of the SOEs, leader of opposition business in the Senate, Donna Scott-Mottley, said “it is the only thing being presented as a viable option”.