Tough talk!

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Tough talk!

PM says pressure will not force Gov't to relent in its fight against criminals

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Thursday, December 05, 2019

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DARLISTON, Westmoreland — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has made it clear that political pressure and criticism will not force his Government to relent in its fight against criminals who are intent on creating mayhem in the country.

“Let me make it absolutely clear, this prime minister and the Government that I lead will not relent against the criminals in this country. So, if there is any expectation that if the SOEs (states of public emergency) are not renewed, that it will be a field day for criminals, they have another thing coming,” warned Holness. “We will put out all our effort, SOE or no SOEs, to get those criminals!”

The prime minister, who was addressing yesterday's handing-over ceremony in Westmoreland, for houses in Darliston and Shrewsbury, said action against criminals will be done within the framework of the law.

“[Because of the frustration with the high level of crime] people will say throw the law to the wind and go after the criminals. I have been told this in the streets that, 'Prime Minister, you too soft. You are to go out there and let the dem them feel it. I am sure that it is the sentiment here with many Jamaicans. But I want Jamaicans to understand that we don't fight savagery and incivility with savagery and incivility. We fight savagery and incivility with law and order and being civil in our country. So we are going to use the law and fight the criminals,” argued Holness.

He was responding to recent criticisms by the Opposition surrounding the effectiveness of SOEs to address the spiralling crime problem.

The prime minister, who stressed that Government will not allow criminals to descend the country into chaos, congratulated the police for successful cases brought before the courts. He made mention of the recent case involving Tesha Miller, who was Tuesday found guilty of orchestrating the murder of then Jamaica Urban Transit Company Chairman Douglas Chambers in June 2008.

“We are not always successful when we go to court because there might be imperfections in our cases, but I want to congratulate the hard-working men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

“They have brought, so far, I am told, 13 cases of serious gangs now under investigation. They are investigating them, following the law, following the directions of the DPP (director of public prosecutions) to refine the cases, and we will improve our abilities in terms of the integration of technologies and the use of forensics in improving our ability to get evidence to bring to court against these criminals,” said the prime minister.

The Government, said Holness, wants to avoid the country returning to the days when looking at the murder rate one also has to look at police killing statistics. Noting that police killings have trended down, the prime minister said the country's police force must not be a brutal force. “We don't want to create a killing machine. This is a civilised society, and it reflects on everyone because once you allow the use of force to get out of hand, you can't tell when it will affect an innocent citizen.”

Holness pointed to gains being made by the SOEs. For example, he said Westmoreland has recorded 42 murders for April 30 to November 30, compared to 76 murder for the comparative period last year. Shootings have also seen a significant reduction since the implementation of the SOEs, he said.

Crime and violence is an emergency, said the prime minister, who argued that SOEs are effective tools which must be used strategically, hence public support must remain strong.


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