Editorial

Returning to those dark days of brutal murders

Monday, October 28, 2013    

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For decades Jamaica has struggled with this pernicious problem of crime. Successive governments and their national security ministers have been pilloried for their failure to tame this monster.

In fact, it is often joked that an out-of-favour politician is sent to the security minster; here his career is expected to die!

We recall the horrible murders committed in the 1990s and early 2000s that have shattered many lives, leaving families without mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and grandchildren.

We recall the pain and suffering unleashed on this country by marauding, callous scum who killed with impunity and, in the process, created fear that strangled growth.

Our reflection on this sad, awful chapter in our history is prompted by what is obviously a return to those dark days with the recent spate of murders, the latest being those of Special Constable Ariana Henry, on Friday night in Marine Park, Portmore; and 27-year-old legal clerk, Ms Sasha-Gay Coffie of West Cumberland, also in Portmore, last Monday.

Ms Coffie was seven months pregnant. Her killer, therefore, robbed her family and this country of two human beings who probably could have made significant contributions to Jamaica's development.

We, like all right-thinking Jamaicans, are appalled by these murders, which are not only denying the country the benefit of its human resources, but are affecting our economic development.

The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, prepared by the United Nations Development Programme, has told us that crime costs Jamaica more than $529 million a year in lost income.

Consider, then, how much more the country is losing from cancelled vacations and other tourism bookings because of a fear of crime, even though crimes against visitors are negligible.

Add to that the disruption to people's daily lives, as well as the harm that crime does to social cohesion, and you get the picture of the kind of predicament that Jamaica is in.

The Government and Mr Peter Bunting, the national security minister, need no one to tell them that we have a massive problem. Heck, it is staring us all in the face every day.

We don't believe that the Administration is clueless as to how to solve this problem. What we suspect is that our legislators are afraid to implement the tough measures necessary to significantly cut the crime rate, because they might be unpopular with certain sections of the society.

But many proposals, plans and strategies have been advanced over the years. We don't need new ones.

What we need is to be strategic in our thinking, acquire the political will to do what needs to be done, and continue to monitor and ensure that the measures are sustained.

Other jurisdictions have done it. There's no reason that we can't.

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