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Chuck wants anti-gang law to clamp down on turf defenders

Published:Thursday | July 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

OPPOSITION Spokesman on Justice and National Security Delroy Chuck wants the new anti-gang law to come down hard on groups who issue threats to bar persons, whose political persuasion might differ from theirs, from entering their communities.

During deliberations yesterday by a joint select committee on the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act in Gordon House, Chuck argued that gangs seek to protect turf and issue threats as a means of preventing persons from other communities from encroaching.

"To give you the best example in Jamaica, communities say 'this is green or this is orange. No one who is green must come in here. No one who is orange must come in here', and very often these are gangs operating and we need to cut that out," Chuck lamented.


His opposition colleague Olivia Grange suggested that residents from so-called garrison communities should get the opportunity to participate in formal discussions on the anti-gang legislation.

Grange, whose Central St Catherine constituency comprises a number of tough inner-city communities, said the anti-gang law would impact garrison communities more than others.

The Central St Catherine member of parliament recommended that the committee facilitates the input of persons in garrison communities outside the precincts of Gordon House.

The committee made it clear that any person who has an interest in taking part in the deliberations should make a written submission to Parliament.

"It might be useful for this committee to think outside of the box and add another dimension to how it treats with getting information, feedback and listening to the people," she added.


Grange also argued that many young men from inner-city communities are often rounded up by personnel from the security forces and labelled as members of particular gangs.

Her concerns come against the background of the definition of a criminal organisation in the proposed law.

A criminal organisation is defined as any group, gang, alliance, network, combination or other arrangement among three or more persons that has as one of its purposes the commission of one or more serious offences.

At yesterday's committee meeting, it was agreed that Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington - or his representative - would open the innings in what is expected to be a flood of submissions from various interest groups and organisations.