Tue | Sep 27, 2016

Let's have an honest debate on crime

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

A Manchester letter writer to this newspaper has suggested that a full debate on the crime situation is urgently needed and should be accorded top priority by the Jamaican Parliament at this time. The reader suggests further, that the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) should approach this topic with the same vigour as it has, in demanding a debate on the impending agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

We agree that the time is long overdue for an honest debate on the alarming crime situation. For too long our politicians have dodged a debate on one of the most frustrating areas of national life. While murder rates continue to soar, our politicians have waffled and simply refused to focus on the choices we must make and the priorities we must set if we are to effectively manage the crime situation. Important crime bills have stalled in the legislature and the cries of the beleaguered police seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. The Government and the Opposition need to understand that the country is being held hostage by criminals. Businesses and homeowners alike now have to spend wads of cash to protect their properties from marauding criminals who continue to overwhelm the police force.

There is no doubt that the current economic recession will have an adverse effect on persons who lose their jobs and are unable to keep their families together, but there is a general feeling that the resilient Jamaican will somehow manage to overcome this, if he were able to move about and conduct business without the spectre of violence hanging over his head. The livestock farmer would likely press harder to increase his stock if he had the assurance that he would not be struck down by praedial thieves. The stark impact of crime can be seen on once-thriving areas of commerce like Red Hills Road and Mountain View Avenue, which have been crippled by extortionists and gunmen.

The fact is, there appears to be more angst in Jamaica about crime than the economic situation. Parliamentarians must recognise that the tentacles of crime and violence are responsible for stifling growth and preventing the country from fulfilling its promise to Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora. So after the Opposition's maneuvers a debate is set for next Tuesday, but one wonders why hasn't the worsening crime situation provoked the kind of prompt action by them as the IMF agreement?

Interestingly, the national security minister is scheduled to unveil a raft of new anti-crime fighting measures shortly. We feel that if these measures are to succeed there has to be agreement on both sides of the aisle as to the best approach needed. And we believe such consensus can only come about after a robust debate in the Parliament in which a strong signal is sent to the criminals that the Parliament is united against them.

In the final analysis, the people are fed up of the daily killings, rapes and kidnapping and they want solutions. We have to believe that our current crop of Parliamentarians have the imagination and ability to lift the country out of this crisis that has gripped us for more than a decade.

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