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Holness updates diaspora on crime plans

Published:Monday | June 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness last night appealed to members of the diaspora for help in addressing the country’s growing crime problem but hinted that focus be placed on new and emerging threats to Jamaica’s all-round security.

“The truth is that we have a closing window and have to move very quickly to resolve the issue, which is why the Government is spending close to J$20 billion on overhauling Jamaica’s national security architecture,” he said.

Holness justified the big spend on national security on the grounds that Jamaica’s infrastructure was not sufficient to meet the challenges of the modern world.

“The truth be told is that were there to be an epiphenomenal event, Jamaica would not be able to stand on its own,” he admitted, while delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, St Andrew. The conference continues at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, today through Wednesday.

“Our dependency is not just on the economic issues, we also have to be able to secure ourselves, not just from the conventional threats, but from the new and emerging threats, for example in the cyber domain. We have to be able to protect our borders. Yes, we are a small land mass, but we have 24 times the size of our land mass in sea space, and where is our sea space? Right in the centre of the Caribbean.

“Anything that moves, it is likely to pass through Jamaican waters, and if is going to pass through Jamaican waters, it may very well seek to stop here, and if it stops here, to be trans-shipped, it will need protection, and that will mean criminal gangs and some of the contraband might stay here or might become the destination for trade – guns for drugs.”

Jamaica, he said, needs to build out its national security infrastructure to protect the country’s shores, an investment the Government is making.