Sun | Oct 1, 2023

#JLP79 | US help with J'can dons abroad among Holness' crime plans

Published:Sunday | November 20, 2022 | 6:11 PM
Holness: "We are going to ensure that you can no longer stay in another country and direct crime here." -Ian Allen photo

The Government will seek the help of the United States to target Jamaica-linked criminals residing in the North American country who are influencing murders and other crimes here, Prime Minister Andrew Holness says.

"For too long foreign dons have been able to get a way with this. We are going to ensure that you can no longer stay in another country and direct crime here," said Holness, while addressing Sunday's annual conference of his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) at the National Arena in St Andrew.  

He said the discussions will be geared at having special operations to target Jamaican dons who are using their resources and influence "to solicit and direct murders here in Jamaica".  

“Personally, I think it's a shame, that someone who got the opportunity to migrate would use that opportunity to seek to make their community a living hell for the people they have left behind," he added. 

“Instead of sending back computers and assisting with school fees, they are sending guns and bullets to encourage you to kill your brothers and sisters. They mean us no good! They must be arrested and locked away for good! We will put a stop to this!”

The announcement was among the major points on how his administration plans to tackle crime and violence in Jamaica. 

Holness reiterated that a new prison designed with high security is to be built as a project of "strategic national interest" with technology implemented to restrict inmates from influencing crimes in the wider society 

A prison for high risk criminals has long been promised, and Holness said costs are now to be finalised. 

The prime minister also said several loopholes in Jamaica's anti-crime response will be closed. “The strategy of the police and the military will change. There are those who believe that we are only searching for firearms. 'No!' Taking the firearm, discovering it without finding the person who brought it in or who is using it is not enough."  

He said the security forces will be conducting more searches, in addition to hunting for persons who are importing, distributing and shooting the firearms. “The police are now intensifying their search. Yesterday (Saturday), four murders occurred in Jamaica, four. One was by the gun, three by stabbings. Already, the measures are having an impact."

The long-standing issue of the flow of guns from the United States into Jamaica got some attention. Holness said the administration has been engaging US authorities on further measures that could be taken to stem the flow of illegal guns into Jamaica.

The discussions are focused on greater security measures at the ports including securing more scanners, he said.

The long-touted Enhanced Security Measures Bill will be brought to Parliament in the next fiscal year that starts April 2023, disclosed Holness. It will include a watch list, special orders for detention and activities for criminals.

That proposed legislation has been on the agenda since at least March 2019 when, according to a statement from government, the National Security Council at the time NSC, considered and agreed on two elements for the framework of the draft Enhanced Security Measures legislation. 

Speaking Sunday, Holness called for "well-thinking Jamaicans" to support the fight against crime, noting that "lucrative" rewards will be given to persons who provide information for arrests to be made. 

He said the JLP is the party of “law and order” and sees the currently levels of murder as an emergency.  “Labourites by nature do not like disorder. By nature! Because of what we believe in."

Holness reiterated his defence of the role of states of emergency in the crime fighting, a view the Opposition People's National Party has disagreed with.

But Holness appealed to the PNP on Sunday to support the extension of recently declared state of emergency in seven parishes. 

"We have never accepted as normal the murder rate of over 1,000 persons each year in a free and democratic society. We believe that such high murder rates are a threat to the freedom and democracy of the society and that the existence of such high rates of murder demonstrably justify the use of emergency powers to protect the right to life the law-abiding citizens from the lawless and marauding few in our society," the prime minister said. 

- Ainsworth Morris

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