JLP, PNP members in Parliament clash over crime

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JLP, PNP members in Parliament clash over crime

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has branded as hypocritical criticism from the Opposition People's National Party that his administration has lost its handle on crime and that the island's airspace and borders are a free for all.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding speaking in the House of Representatives in downtown Kingston yesterday called on the government to “speak to the nation” regarding the recent spike in crimes which he said was as alarming as the increasing cases of the coronavirus disease in the island as well as weekend events involving a mysterious downed plane in the Rocky Point, Clarendon area, the occupants of which persons have theorised were involved in sinister dealings.

“There is a feeling that the government needs to speak to the nation as to how it will tackle those issues especially at this time when the States of Emergency option is not on the table, the Courts having ruled that it is not constitutional but we are concerned that we are not really hearing any new strategies being outlined. The spike in the murder rate is somewhat similar to the spike in the covid rate and the whole nation is anxious to see how this is going to be addressed. The whole level of insecurity is growing and it must be responded to with an effective response,” Golding said yesterday.

That opinion however earned him a stinging rebuke from the prime minister who went to great lengths to detail steps taken by his administration to reduce crime.

“I am asking the leader of the Opposition to help us to quarantine some of the criminals who are killing the people in Kingston Western which includes St Andrew South. I am asking the leader of the Opposition to give support measures that give emergency powers to the government to control the crime that is happening,” Holness retorted.

“There is no switch that can be flipped and overnight the murder rate will go down, we have always been fair to this country that after decades of under-investment in our national security apparatus in this country has come down and laid down a plan to secure Jamaica; not a one year plan, not a two year plan, a decade of planning to increase our border protection and security,” he argued.

The prime minister went on to note that the government was not blind to the happenings on the country's coasts and airspace.

“Now we know when the planes are flying, we know who is coming into our waters, let me not say too much...but never before in the history of this country have our security forces brought so many cases before the courts. We are not only bringing in the gangs and the gang leaders but we are doing it at the same time we are reducing the extra judicial killings of the security forces, we are not doing it because there is an Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

Said Holness, “every Jamaican is concerned about the spike and we would like to be able to respond with the special measures but we are not going to rely on that but we are going to continue with our plan to secure Jamaica. Clearly you would have seen that interdiction for drugs has increased, getting the guns coming into our ports has increased. You don't bring in 50 members of a gang by forming a squad to go out there and shoot them up, you bring them in by increasing your intelligence gathering capacity.

“The biggest hypocrisy is the request for more presence in communities that are affected,” he argued further.

During the resulting interchange which saw chaos reigning in the House as members on both sides of the House exchanged verbal insults, Opposition Member of Parliament took House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple Phillibert to task for her handling of the exchange testily demanding “what the hell is happening to this Parliament?” when she prevented him from prodding the prime minister to give a 'yes or no answer' to his query of whether the areas concerned can “ have increased security presence in communities without the SOE?”

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