Prime Minister Andrew Holness chaired the first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) for the calendar year 2019, on Thursday, January 24, 2019.
The Opposition Spokesperson on National Security, Mr. Fitz Jackson attended at the invitation of the Prime Minister.
The Council continued discussions from 2018 regarding Plan Secure Jamaica and other matters of national security which will be given priority focus for 2019.
The Ministry of Justice led a presentation on recommended amendments to the Bail Act. These discussions followed from directives by the Council regarding the grant of bail to persons charged with serious crimes, particularly those charged with gun related offences. The Prime Minister directed that further action be advanced to have the process of amendments completed as a matter of priority.
The Firearms Licensing Authority (FLA) was invited to provide a presentation on the operations of the FLA and proposed amendments to the Firearms Act and the impact on various stakeholders, including the Firearms Industry. Following from the presentation, the Prime Minister reiterated the Government’s policy directives that the highest standards of integrity must be maintained in the issuance of firearm licenses and that FLA should intensify its engagement with all stakeholders to ensure that the standards are fully understood and that each licensee understands the duties and responsibilities of having the privilege of owning a firearm.
The Council acknowledged the work being undertaken by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), which has reported that more than three hundred cases are presently before the courts. Additionally, MOCA continues to support the Government’s mission to improve the integrity of the Security Forces and other agencies through the process of enhanced security screening particularly through administering polygraphs. The Minister of National Security emphasised the importance of this process in ensuring that the state’s security personnel are held to the highest standard of integrity and professionalism.
The Prime Minister concluded by commending the work of the Security Forces and noted that they are rebuilding the trust of the public in executing their duties respectfully and without abuse of the citizens. He noted his continued concerns regarding the country’s crime rate and reminded the Council that his Government will pursue measures that will ensure that Jamaica remains a free and democratic society.