Chuck calls for pushback against criminals

Saturday, June 17, 2017

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth – Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is urging Jamaicans to join with the Government to use the current surge in crime as an “opportunity” to push back against criminals.

“In every crisis there is opportunity, and what we have now are serious (criminal) crises across Jamaica and we are going to use this opportunity to fight back,” Chuck told justices of the peace at a training seminar here in Santa Cruz on Thursday.

According to the Cabinet minister, the anti-crime fight will now be made easier with the help of proposed Zones of Special Operations legislation now before Parliament and which he expects will be passed into law in short order.

“This Government will fight back with legislation we now have in Parliament and we are going to implement it with protections for human rights, protections for freedoms but, most importantly, law and order must be restored to communities,” he said.

“We intend to go into the belly of these communities [affected by crime and violence],” he said.

“…The PM (Prime Minister Andrew Holness) has asked me to complete [the Zones of Special Operations legislation] within two weeks [and] I am determined to complete it,” he said.

Chuck said the “special zones will allow the security forces to lock down sections” of communities and, if necessary, whole communities.

He added: “When that community is locked down the security forces will be there for some time to ensure law and order is restored, to search every toilet pit, roof top, everything, to find the guns and the bullets that gunmen hide.”

However, he said that in order to succeed the police will need the full support of residents.

“This government is determined that when the Special Zones Act is passed that the security forces will put gunmen on the defensive and on the run and they wont have anywhere to hide because we are going to lock down community after community, search them, find the guns, bring out the criminals and allow citizens to live in peace and safety….,” he said.

“With every breath, I am going to make sure Jamaica becomes a safe place once again; we are determined that new legislation and all crime fighting methods be put in place that will put people in safe communities as we chase out the gunmen and keep them on the run; we are totally fed up, people are fed up by crime and violence,” said the justice minister.

In the meantime, he lamented the “frightening conspiracy of silence” which has allowed criminality to thrive, arguing that people must find a way to tell what they know .

Building trust between citizens, he said, would have to be a priority of the new police commissioner, so that people who knew the perpetrators of crime will feel confident to provide the information.

“I know that people are afraid. Poor people have more reasons to be afraid. They live in substandard houses that are easily breached by marauding gunmen. Their communities have no security – no gated communities, no private security, sometimes not even adequate lighting – against trigger-happy men or boys. The poor in the country are easy preys of crime and violence,” he said.

Also, he said, the society should be aware of the grave dangers and difficulties facing the security forces as they seek to protect communities from criminals.

Chuck, meanwhile, urged the private sector to build partnerships with the Government through projects such as the provision of surveillance cameras.

The justice minister reiterated his pledge to speed up the court system so that criminals, once they are caught, will face justice much more quickly than is now the case.

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