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Gun export suspension should not affect security forces – gov't

Published:Friday | November 11, 2016 | 11:24 AM
National Security Minister Robert Montague

National Security Minister Robert Montague has sought to give the assurance that the security forces will not be affected by the United States’ decision to suspend the export of guns to Jamaica over foul-ups at the scandal-hit Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA).

Montague says the United States has a right to do what it did but he asserts that Jamaica’s security forces have sufficient weapons.

Public affairs counsellor at the US embassy, Joshua Polacheck, says the US does not anticipate any impact on the police and army at this point as the review so far involves licensed firearm dealers in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Montague says a report on the FLA has been turned over to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.

He says the probe so far at the FLA has uncovered some serious deficiencies which the authorities are moving to correct:

 

Minister of national security, Robert Montague

The FLA has been swirling in controversy since businessman Patrick Powell was freed of the murder of schoolboy Khajeel Mais in October.

Revelations came that Powell’s main file at the authority has disappeared, and there were questions about whether his gun licence had been revoked when he failed to turn over the weapon to the police.

There was also the disclosure that two licences had been issued for the gun registered in Powell’s name.

However, the police say this was caused by a data entry error.

IN PHOTO: Bunting

Even as the national security minister moves to quell fears, his opposition counterpart, Peter Bunting, says Montague should be blamed and should be removed from the portfolio.

Bunting says Montague has made contradictory statements about the FLA, in one instance praising the former chief executive officer, and then days later saying the FLA’s systems are either corrupt or broken.

Bunting says Montague seemed willing to undermine the public's confidence in the institutional integrity of the FLA’s internal systems and did not have the good judgment to await the results of the probe he ordered.

He says the Government must move swiftly to take corrective measures to regain the confidence of the public and international partners.