JIS News

Minister of National Security, Colonel Trevor MacMillan, has said that the Jamaican Diaspora has a very important role to play in the development of the country, and encouraged members to provide practical assistance.
“As members of the Diaspora with your continued interest in Jamaica, you can assist us in practical terms. Not only through the remittances which contribute significantly to our economy, but also through social intervention in communities by way of donating resources or offering yourselves as volunteers. Indeed, I note that some of you have already identified projects in various communities which you intend to adopt,” Mr. MacMillan noted.
The Minister was speaking at the Third Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference under the theme: ‘A Borderless Partnership for Development’, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, yesterday (June 16).
Colonel MacMillan argued that the conference would facilitate a much deeper and stronger bond, and “we have to create a vehicle through which we can mutually exchange ideas and come to important conclusions.”
He urged members of the Diaspora to use their influence to encourage relatives in Jamaica, to assist the police in carrying out their duties. “Very importantly, you have a very strong influence over your relatives in Jamaica. Help us to drive home to them the need for co-operating with the police to contain crime,” the Minister said.
“I know that the current crime figures out of Jamaica are a serious concern to you as they are to us at home. Seven hundred murders in the first half of this year is a genuine cause for concern, especially to a small developing nation such as Jamaica and its people. It is probably of small comfort if I explain that most of those murders, probably as many as between 400 and 500, involved warfare between some 125 criminal gangs, which the police have identified as operating across the island,” Mr. MacMillan pointed out.
He informed that almost 80 per cent of those 700 murders are gang-related, and warned that he would not allow the country to be “over-run by criminals.”
“In my first statement to Parliament since being appointed Minister of National Security, I made it quite clear that I would use the full force of the law to stop the blood-shed and that we would be preparing a multi-dynamic, a multi-purpose response to the country’s crime. Regardless of where these criminals live, and to whom they are affiliated, we will leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice,” the Minister emphasized.
He noted that the Government was fully aware of the need to address deep social problems feeding crime, and that a social intervention programme in vulnerable and volatile communities would be implemented.
Mr. MacMillan further informed that a number of legislative changes would be brought to Parliament to strengthen the capacity of the police to apprehend those engaged in violent criminal activity, especially gun crimes and to keep them off the streets. He noted too, that the Attorney-General has been instructed to fast-track the preparation of the necessary legislation and the Ministry of Finance will need to provide additional financial resources.
“The re-organization of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) to transform it into an efficient peace-keeping law enforcement and crime-fighting machine is of paramount importance and urgency,” Mr. MacMillan said, while noting that the National Security Council, which includes representatives of the Police Service Commission, has completed its preliminary review of the report of the police force’s Strategic Review.
Additionally, the report addresses many of the structural organizational weaknesses of the force, and is to be discussed further with key stakeholders, including the police, the Police Federation, the Police Officers Association, and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority (PCOA), the Minister said.
The document has been published in the Police Force Orders, and is also available on the Ministry’s website at www.mns.gov.jm.
“The Opposition has been provided with copies of the review and has been invited to take part in bi-partisan discussions on the recommendations to seek consensus..We must be prepared to work together and to quickly sign off on changes to be implemented and begin as early as possible to put those changes in place,” Mr. MacMillan emphasized.
Turning to the Vale Royal Talks held between the Government and the Opposition last week, he noted that the issue of crime was the main focus of the meeting. It also dealt with the need for legislative changes to introduce stiffer penalties for gun crimes; the expediting of cases by the courts generally and specifically those related to gun crime; improving the morale of the JCF; the strengthening of existing systems to improve the process of intelligence-gathering; and the strengthening of operational structures that will better enable the police force to more effectively contain and control increasing incidents of crime and violence.
“The Opposition has given its full commitment to support measures necessary to strengthen the police force, and has agreed to engage in a process of on-going discussions with the Government in order to assist in the provision of recommendations in monitoring the process by which implementation takes place,” the Minister informed.
Mr. MacMillan said the Government has the responsibility to lead the efforts to return the country to peace and stability. “The security forces are our principal agency for discharging that responsibility and they must be assured of our full support. Every well-thinking Jamaican has a duty to join in that effort to take back the control of our communities and to demonstrate to the criminal elements that we will not surrender to them,” he stressed.
The two-day conference, which is open to the media for the first time, has an estimated 700 persons from the Diaspora in attendance. It seeks to sensitize members of investment opportunities and to see how best Jamaica could work with the Diaspora to achieve greater economic development.