Gov’t continues to lobby US to stem inflow of illegal guns
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Andrew Holness-led administration continues to lobby for the United States to provide greater assistance in stemming the flow of illegal guns into the island.
Addressing a security seminar at the AC Marriott Hotel on Wednesday, the prime minister said altering the influx of illegal guns in the country would help to bolster the measures the Government has implemented to secure the country’s points of entry and bring the crime problem under control.
“We recognise that there are still many gaps. One of them is the ability of the state to control the inflow of illegal guns into Jamaica. It is a problem for us to control our borders,” he said.
According to a news release on Thursday, Holness indicated that massive investments have been made in boosting the capabilities of the security forces to increase surveillance and detect illicit items at ports of entry. This includes investments in offshore patrol vessels and maritime patrol aircraft and boosting scanning capabilities at ports.
“But as an island, you know that we have several informal points of entry, and it’s going to be difficult to control all of them, but we are increasing our surveillance, including making significant investment in a state-of-the-art coastal radar system,” he said. “We are doing what is necessary, but we could do with some help from our friends from the United States, because what we are seeing is a change in the profile of weapons coming into Jamaica.”
“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, Jamaica would be getting what we would describe as post-war weapons out of Latin America, post-war conflict weapons out of Nicaragua and El Salvador and other places. Now what we are seeing are AR15 and Glock platforms, which are mostly coming out of North America,” Holness continued even as he reiterated that the country’s gun control problem is not America’s prerogative.
“This is not America’s problem, let me be clear, this is Jamaica’s problem. Jamaica must take responsibility and not leave our national security up to our partners; we must take responsibility for it. The truth is, it is not Americans, meaning persons without Jamaican connections, that are sending guns here; it is our relatives, our family members,” he noted, adding that he has asked the American Government to look seriously into this matter.
“When I visited, I spoke to Vice President Kamala Harris a couple of years ago. I went back two years ago, myself and the Commissioner. We met with representatives of the Department of Justice and I went back last year again, We have been constantly lobbying and our partners have been very accommodating to us,” he said. “I must say that our partners have been giving us a listening ear, and I know you know our American partners have so many other challenges that they have to deal with little Jamaica’s problem, you know, we really should be dealing with that, but because of where our capacity is versus the magnitude of the problem, we need the support.”
Meanwhile, coordinator for the Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions and Associate Deputy Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, Michael Ben’Ary, said the guns that are being illegally trafficked from the United States is a shared problem.
“We are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with you in investigating, prosecuting, charging and taking these networks out of Commission. It is a problem that we view as our own problem as well as a problem here with our very close partners in Jamaica,” he noted.