Sat | Jul 21, 2018

Montague under pressure after comment on crime

Published:Tuesday | June 13, 2017 | 10:45 AM

National Security Minister, Robert Montague is facing scathing social media criticisms for telling Jamaicans not to be "overly concerned" about the current upsurge in murders that's seen an increase of about 19 per cent over last year, and an average seven killings per day since June.

“We just want to assure law-abiding Jamaicans that what is happening, they ought not to be overly concerned," he told RJR 94FM in an interview last night. "[Be] concerned, yes, because lives are being lost but when you look at the antecedents of most of those, it is a matter of gang members killing gang members."

"There is a very small percentage, less than 25 per cent that are non-gang related."

Montague explained that investment in intelligence as well as the police success in confiscating illegal guns is causing much of the gang fights. "Since the beginning of this year, there has been an increase in the take-up of illegal weapons from the streets and it is creating a lot of problems."

On Twitter, however, infuriated users have accused Montague of being insensitive with his comments, some saying he should not have said Jamaicans should not be "overly concerned".

Mr TSA‏ @TanayahSam: "Not encouraging for those of us abroad who want to come back to the beautiful island.

Yasuke‏ @stuartsmellie: Yasuke: "@AndrewHolnessJM the public can't have faith Montague after this statement. We need a minister that has our best interest at heart."

Durie Dee said: " This rhetoric is very troubling, and should be strongly addressed with the minister."

The Andrew Holness government has come under pressure from the Opposition People's National Party under whose previous administration murders began increasing after falling in the immediate years following the 2010 West Kingston operation. 

Prime Minister Holness has so far not commented publicly on the latest murder spike. However, Montague has said that the Government is pushing a legislative agenda to help deal with the problem.

A Gordon House committee is scheduled to meet this morning to begin deliberations over the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) bill that will allow the security forces to target problem communities to flush out criminals and implement social measures.

Commissioner of Police, George Quallo is this afternoon also expected to outline measures to stem the wave of murders that, in the last week alone, has left a trail of 54 bodies. 

There has been a recent investment in military equipment to target the guns for drugs trade. There are also plans to overhaul the Jamaica Constabulary Force.