(JIS) – Reporting Gun Locations: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says persons should not be afraid to call in on the Government’s $100-million islandwide cash for guns reward programme, noting that all identities will be protected.
Mr. Holness, who was speaking at a press conference on September 3 at the Montego Bay Regional Office of the Office of the Prime Minister, said the Government will not be involved in the payment, but will provide the funds where “Crime Stop and the other crime-fighting partners will do all the interface with the public”.
“This will be done to show that there is no need to fear that somehow your identity or your name will end up with the Government,” the Prime Minister explained.
“That will not happen, and which is why we have decided to deal with an independent party in administering how the funds will work,” he added.
The Prime Minister pointed out that two separate funds will be set up, starting on September 4, as, in addition to the $100-million reward programme where persons will be paid for reporting on the location of guns, there will be another fund amounting to $20 million for information leading to the arrest of the 20 most- wanted criminals in the country.
Mr. Holness said the list will be republished by the security forces in short order.
“This is called the Fugitive Apprehension Fund, where information that leads to the apprehension of a fugitive will result in the reward of $1 million,” he said.
“Again, this is a great incentive for the public to tell what they know. Fighting crime pays…telling what you know under this programme will pay,” the Prime Minister added.
Reporting Gun Locations: Mr. Holness said that under the cash-for-guns programme, information leading to the recovery of rifles and sub-machine guns will yield $150,000; semi-automatic pistols and shotguns, $100,000; and revolvers, $75,000. Payment for the recovery of explosives and ammunition will be negotiable.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Government, as a matter of policy, is declaring that there will be a moratorium on establishing possession, where an illegal firearm is discovered on premises.
“This will last for five days from the date of announcement. The moratorium/grace period will not apply to firearms or ammunition found on a person. We want to encourage them to provide this information before we find the guns. Call Crime Stop at 311. The confidentiality of that system has never been breached,” he said.
However, the Prime Minister pointed out that the moratorium will not give immunity to the documented owners or occupiers of premises if an illegal gun yields evidence that connects the owner or occupier to other crimes.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the moratorium on prosecution for illegal possession of firearm and ammunition discovered on a premises is only applicable to the zones of special operations,” Mr. Holness said.
“After the moratorium has expired, the Joint Force will apply a zero- tolerance approach, and people will be arrested and the law will be strictly applied in establishing possession,” he added.
The press conference followed the declaration of Mount Salem in St. James as the first zone of special operations by the Prime Minister on September 1. This will last for 60 days
This was done under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) law, which was passed in Parliament in July.
It serves as an important piece of legislation that seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social-intervention initiatives.