Mr. Speaker, I find it necessary to comment on the state of crime in the country. While we can speak to an overall 21% decline in the number of murders in Jamaica since the start of the year, there has been a series of cruel attacks on vulnerable groups – particularly the elderly and young girls.
Mr. Speaker, while the Government continues the process towards citizens’ security for all Jamaicans, it cannot go unnoticed that there is a 29% decline in the overall number of children murdered. However, when compared to last year, the attacks on these vulnerable groups appear to be more heinous and barbaric and is cause for grave concern to the government.
Mr. Speaker, the forever silent voices of 38 of our children that were taken from us since January, like 14 year-old Yettanya Francis and 14 year-old Raven Wilson, saddens and shames us as a nation. The slaughter of Deon Smith and her 16 year-old daughter Jayshenel Gordon, as well as the slaying of 25-year old Khyhymn Campbell, allegedly by persons they knew well, indicate a level of callousness in the souls of some of our citizens – that must be rooted out.
Mr. Speaker, I pause to offer my condolences to the families that are coping with the loss of their loved ones at the hands of heartless murderers. We mourn as a nation with them.
The impact of these crimes on loved ones, family well-being and overall quality of life in communities have not gone unnoticed.
This serves as constant reminder and motivation for the government to ensure that our best efforts are operationalized, at all times, to give optimal results and afford justice to our victims.
In this regard, Mr. Speaker, we continue to implement several responses across various platforms to enable a holistic response. This includes the Government embarking on a number of relevant legislative pursuits to strengthen the legal framework to provide greater protection to our women, children and the elderly as well as to strengthen the legal authority to bring the perpetrators to justice. Mr. Speaker, it must be that where offences are committed, we must have severe penalties that act as deterrents to these crimes. Justice must be swift, sure and severe.