Enforce the law for murder, in whatever form it exists
Yellow Tape/Crime Scene

For a very long time gunmen have been operating with impunity in public spaces.

Older Jamaicans will remember the late 1980s when then Tivoli Gardens enforcer Mr Lester Coke, alias Jim Brown, was charged in relation to what was called The Rema Killings in which 12 people died. However, after an alleged eyewitness changed her statement Mr Coke was freed.

Dozens of his supporters then gave a prolonged gun salute in front of the Supreme Court, leaving police, judges, lawyers, and the public cowering in fear.

The crowd lifted Mr Coke on their shoulders and carried him triumphantly into Tivoli Gardens.

Since then we have seen other instances of gunmen spraying bullets in public spaces. In fact, that nihilistic behaviour was highlighted in the recently concluded Klansman gang trial by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes who, while sentencing the leader of the gang to just under 40 years in prison, said that the gang operated with "a culture of impunity" under the leadership of a man who had no qualms about "killing again and again and again".

Many Jamaicans, among them children and the elderly, have been killed by these savages who, as Prime Minister Andrew Holness said during yesterday's post-Cabinet press briefing, have no heart or soul and do not respect people's right to life and safety.

"They are not going to return any grace you give them. They are not reasonable people, they are terrorists and they must be treated as such," said Mr Holness, who added that these criminals, "in the pursuit of their limited and narrow objectives... are also pursuing the destruction of our State".

We take no issue with his position. We too are infuriated by the actions of scum who have shown us time and time again that they cannot be allowed to live among us.

The prime minister also told us on Wednesday that he was never a supporter of the death penalty, but in recent times his view on the penalty for murder has evolved and he believes that the highest penalty possible, within the jurisprudence on this matter, should be applied, as currently the penalties are not a deterrent.

That will no doubt reopen the intermittent debate on hanging that has elicited strong views on both sides.

As it now stands, capital punishment remains on the books. However, there have been no executions since 1988.

We have argued before that if members of the legislature truly believe that we should abolish the death penalty, then, instead of voting to retain it, as they did in 2008 because the majority of Jamaicans support it, they should advocate that it be changed. As such, the current push by the Government for a mandatory minimum sentence of 50 years for capital murder is worth examining, so too is amending the law governing life in prison to ensure there is no possibility of parole for convicted capital murderers, if it is that they are to be spared execution.

However, until such time, capital punishment is the law, and should be upheld.

But, above all else, what needs to be done is for the law, in whatever form it exists, to be enforced because it is clear that the animals who are callously slaughtering Jamaicans have no fear of the law.

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