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PM announced Zero Tolerance for Violence

PM announced Zero Tolerance for Violence

THE Andrew Holness-led Administration yesterday announced a zero-tolerance approach towards perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual abuse and grooming of minors signalling its approach towards arresting the growing crime wave sweeping the island.

The announcement of enforcing existing laws comes in the wake of an escalation in crimes against women and children in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Holness, at a hastily-called press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister following a special meeting of the Cabinet, suggested that the nation has been brought to its knees with crime because violence has been used as a currency of social transaction, effectively identifying its root as a cultural one.

Holness promised that the coming crime plan will undoubtedly cause disruption in the way the country has operated.

 “The Government will be using existing laws, which include preventative detention in live and imminent situations of domestic violence, sexual abuse and grooming of minors to remove aggressors from the scene, thereby de-escalating the situation,” he told journalists at the press conference, while insisting that the announcement is not a knee-jerk reaction.

He noted, too, that at an appropriate time he will be putting together all the elements Government has been working on to tackle crime.

ILLEGAL TAXI TARGETING

But, as part of the zero-tolerance approach, the police, assisted by the Transport Authority, will be targeting ‘robot’ (illegal) taxis as of Monday next week, and will be removing dark tints from all public passenger vehicles.

The police have arrested and charged 1,442 perpetrators of crimes against women and children over the past 13 months.

Acting Police Commissioner Novelette Grant, who also spoke at the press conference, disclosed that 86 people had been held for shooting, 67 for murder, 252 for rape, 280 for robbery, 202 for sexual offences/indecent assault, 237 for sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, 169 for break-ins, while 54 were held for larceny under the category of crimes against women and children over the last 13 months.

At the same time, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte stressed that the preventative detention measure to be used complies with the constitution and laws of the country

She explained that, in a case involving domestic violence, an individual who is believed to be a threat to another person will be detained before that threat is carried out. That detention, she said, should last for 24 hours, but can be extended up to 72 hours.

However, Malahoo-Forte insisted that two safeguards — reasonable grounds and fair procedure — must be exercised before enforcing this detention.

“The Government has given a directive to the police to enforce existing laws [and] to use existing powers before we consider passing any new laws. At the same time, we’re also reviewing laws to see whether they are adequate,” she said, noting that the Domestic Violence Act, and several acts relating to sexual offences, violence against women and children are among those being reviewed.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller yesterday called on Government to urgently make its security plans public.

“The crime wave we have seen over the last few months will have a devastating effect on economic growth and development if it is not checked. It is important that the Government and the police tell the nation urgently the measures being implemented to keep our country safe,” she said in a news release.

Simpson Miller, at the same time, urged Jamaicans to exercise responsibility and vigilance as they go about their daily business.

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