Holness says Corporate Area murders now a cause for concern

Holness says Corporate Area murders now a cause for concern

By Balford Henry
Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday noted that of 20 murders reported since the start of the new year, 11 were recorded in Kingston and St Andrew.

The prime minister hinted that, with the statistics highlighting more than 50 per cent of the 2019 murders in the Corporate Area, this is “an area of specific cause for concern”.

The murders occurred prior to Monday night's termination of the state of emergency (SOE) in central Kingston and lower St Andrew, which lasted three months until an Opposition's rejection of the constitutionality of the SOEs in the House of Representatives on December 11 led to its termination.

Holness made the point during a statement to the House of Representatives which followed Monday night's discussions with the Opposition on the possibility of retaining the only outstanding SOE, which covers the previously dominant area of volatility – St James.

He noted that in St James, where the SOE is scheduled to end on January 31, there had been a 70 per cent decrease in murders and a 58.6 per cent reduction in shootings, compared to 2017. The other SOE, in the St Catherine North Police Division, ended on January 2 with a 28.5 per cent decrease in murders and a 41 per cent decrease in shootings.

Holness said that, in terms of national statistics for 2018, murder ended up at 1,287 persons, or 21.9 per cent less than in 2017 and 4.9 per cent less than that recorded in 2016.

He said that shootings involved 1,154 persons, 22.3 per cent less recorded than 2017, and 5.9 per cent less than that recorded in 2016)

“In effect, Jamaica currently has a murder rate of approximately 47 per hundred thousand. This is almost three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, which has the highest homicide rate globally of 16/100,000 of population,” the prime minister said.

“We are at approximately eight times higher than the global average of 6/100,000. Bear in mind that New York, a metropolis of more than eight million people, had a murder rate of 3.3 /100,000 or 289 murders in total,” he added.

Holness also added that, on average, approximately 18,000 deaths are registered in Jamaica yearly. By 2014 data, 67 per cent of deaths in the population five years and older were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). However, in the age group 15 to 35, violence is the main cause of death, and accounting for a third of all deaths in this age group.

“Violence is the second leading cause of death in the age group 35 to 45. These are the most productive years of our citizens,” he noted.

In the meantime, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday released a joint statement about Monday night's discussions on the crime and violence issues, from which the media was barred.

The brief release said that, although each side had differing views on the constitutionality of extending the states of public emergency, both teams engaged in a full, frank and wide-ranging discussion and explored issues, including human rights, possible legislative amendments that could enhance crime management capabilities of the security forces and additional resources — financial, technical and human — to improve the capacity of the security forces.

“It was agreed that the respective legal teams would meet to discuss and agree, where possible, on the crime control powers to be utilised in the existing legislative framework or new legislation. Both the Government and Opposition agreed to continue discussions on points of agreement, while they seek wider consensus in the interest of Jamaica's national security.

“It was agreed that there will be further meetings, beginning with a meeting with other stakeholders, including the private sector, the churches, human rights and civil society groups, which will be convened on Wednesday January 16, 2019 to advance national consensus,” the release added.

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