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Jamaica forced to defend anti-gang law in the US

Published:Thursday | March 27, 2014 | 12:35 PM

Jamaica was this morning forced to defend the impending enactment of the anti-gang law at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the United States.

The law is to be used by the security forces to suppress and eliminate criminal organisations.

One of the organisation's commissioners, Rosa María Ortiz, expressed concerns about due process regarding the passage of the law.

Ortiz also argued that children could be unfairly targeted under the law.

Speaking through a translator, she said there are clear experiences in the Caribbean region regarding the lack of positive responses to what she called repressive policies.

Jamaica’s representative at the hearing, Ambassador Stephen Vascianne admitted that the law is likely to have a significant impact on young people.

He says the Government is pursuing other programmes to target youth in crime.

However, he argued that given the high number of crimes, tough laws such as the anti-gang act are necessary.

Police statistics show that criminal gangs are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the murders Jamaica has recorded in the last decade.

The police believe there are the more than 200 active gangs across the island.

The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014, commonly referred to as the anti-gang law, was passed in both Houses of Parliament this year.

It is now awaiting the assent of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to become law.


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