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JIS News

Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Audrey Marks yesterday (June 7) stressed the Government’s commitment to the attainment of peace and security in order to create economic and social opportunities, facilitate trade and investment, and to generate tourism and employment in the region.
Ambassador Marks, who was addressing the 40th General Assembly of the OAS in Lima, Peru said that critical to this objective is curtailing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which has become a persistent and intractable problem in Jamaica, contributing to the high levels of crime and violence and is the main impediment to the country’s development.
She cited statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), which reveal that 80 per cent of the homicides in Jamaica involve the use of illegal firearms. She noted that since 2000, the police have recovered over 5,000 illegal weapons and a significant assortment of rounds of ammunition.
She informed that a number of initiatives to reduce violent crimes and restore law and order, including the dismantling of organised criminal networks, strengthening the security apparatus, and national firearms database and a tracer system to track the origin of illegal firearms.
In addition, the Government is seeking Parliamentary approval for six anti-crime bills, the DNA Evidence Act, and new criminal gang legislation, including measures to prevent the award of contracts to individuals linked to criminal activities, in order to strengthen the country’s capacity to fight crime.
The Ministry of National Security, she informed further, has been pursuing sub-regional co-operation with a number of countries including, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the United States, with assistance from other international partners, with a view to implementing tighter regulation and gun control mechanisms to stem the flow of illegal guns to the region. Other regional co-operation mechanisms are being pursued within the context of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Ambassador Marks told the OAS General Assembly that the recent imposition of a State of Emergency in Kingston and St. Andrew was in an effort to protect the state and its people against the onslaught of criminal groups.
So far, 47 guns and over 10,000 rounds of ammunition have been seized by the security forces.
The security operation, she noted, is “a defining moment in our history to re-establish the rule of law and order and the authority of the state.”
“This is the beginning of a concerted effort to dismantle the aggressive criminal networks that have embedded themselves in communities in many urban areas and even in some rural communities,” she added.
She placed on record the Government’s appreciation for the statement issued by the OAS in support of the efforts of the Government of Jamaica and its security forces. “We also wish to thank all member states for their expressions of solidarity and support,” she expressed.