Call out the army!
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Faced with the embarrassing and well-documented fact that Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates worldwide, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) wants soldiers immediately deployed to the streets to augment the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
The call has been supported by all JHTA council members and its six chapters across the island.
The JHTA's call also comes days after five men were executed in the Salt Spring community in St James, the killing of a five-year-old girl, and a church deacon, as the murder toll jumped to 537 in 120 days.
"What is clear is that the killers are becoming more brazen in their message. We have now hit a new and tragic low in our society," said the JHTA.
According to the tourism body, with the economic pressures as they are, the ability in the short term to expand the ranks of the JCF sufficiently is unlikely. Therefore, the thousands of trained members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) must be put on the streets to augment JCF numbers.
The JHTA says although it is very concerned about the impact on the tourism sector of having soldiers on the streets, "it is far more outraged that Jamaicans are being cut down by thugs who are unashamed of their actions and unperturbed about the clearly ineffective penalties for their crime".
The organisation feels that the trauma that the murders bring to loved ones, and the shame it causes us as a people, are immeasurable.
"It is time that all of us take a stand to push back the country from this precipice."
The JHTA argues that the crime hot spots are known, and while the criminals are significantly armed, they lack the formal training of the members of the JCF and the JDF.
"We are intimately aware that the majority of the residents who live in troubled and war-torn areas are law-abiding and good citizens who, by virtue of what is taking place, have become shut-ins and pawns that can be sacrificed for the criminal gains of the selfish minority."
The JHTA says all well-thinking citizens and organisations, including the private sector, churches, human-rights activists, the legal fraternity, must move without fear to tackle crime.
"And with the sheer numbers of our majority, protest against the ineffective, media-catching, but half-hearted attempts to implement changes to our crime-fighting capabilities," says the JHTA.
According to the JHTA, it will be unrelenting in its demand for action, including
Strengthening the rule of law through legislative reform
Demanding that penalties now on the books for crimes committed be applied expeditiously to show perpetrators the country's resolve to rid itself of crime.
Supporting initiatives to bring hope and positive choice to Jamaica's youth.