PM says Gov't won't stoop to criminals' level

PM says Gov't won't stoop to criminals' level

Staff reporter

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has pointed out that in the fight against crime, Government has always been mindful of individuals' human rights and will never stoop to giving criminals a taste of their own medicine.

“We have to let the criminals know that we will never descend to their level of savagery and incivility,” Prime Minister Holness said. “We are doing what is necessary and we cannot always give in to the very strong impetus to just lash out at crime, because sometimes we feel that we should be harsh and we should take drastic measures.

“The challenge with that, of course, is that we end up violating our own constitution,” he said.

In fact, the prime minister argued that for the past four years, Jamaica has not been accused of any human rights violations.

“There is no international human rights agency that can point a finger at Jamaica's human rights record over the last two, three, four years. People don't see that as an achievement, but it is in terms of building the brand of what is Jamaica because... when you do that brand search and brand understanding, you see violence as part of that brand. And so what we don't want is [for] the State to be contributing to violence in Brand Jamaica,” Holness insisted.

He moved to dispel the notion that the murder rate, which has been escalating for more than four decades, can be suddenly overturned.

“There is a sense in the country that, overnight, that you take up a switch [and] we will be able to reverse all those 40 years of [the] non-stop geometric increase in the murder rate in the country. We are coming from 400 murders over a year, on average, in the 80s, to where we are, and that is not going to change overnight!” said Holness, who was speaking at the official opening of the Jamaica Labour Party's St James West Central constituency office last Saturday.

“It takes [a] year or more to procure new police cars. It takes a year to train a new kind of squad to deal with issues in this area. You will see the quick reaction force (Elite Quick Response Unit) and that they are now mobile on bikes. It took a little time to train them and get them functional, to put in place SOEs (states of emergency), to have them functioning in the right way; to go through the parliamentary process, it has taken us two years. And you know, I am not going to talk up the results because it seems to me that whenever we do that there appears to be a determination by the criminals to make it otherwise, so leave it as it is.

“And over time we will reduce violence, bring back Jamaica as the peaceful, 'no problem' nation that it was,” Holness said.

Last year the police in St James launched a new unit called the Elite Quick Response Unit in an effort to further capitalise on the gains being made under the current state of public emergency in the parish.

The prime minister was speaking at the formal opening of the Jamaica Labour Party's St James West Central constituency office Saturday night, in the constituency represented by Member of Parliament Marlene Malahoo Forte.

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