Saturday 14 December, 2019

Chang promises tougher sanctions for attacks on the more vulnerable

Dr Horace Chang 
(file photo)

Dr Horace Chang (file photo)

The government has warned that it will be getting tougher on the perpetrators of heinous crimes like the recent brutal murders of children, women and the elderly.

In a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang said a raft of legislation will be amended to give the police more teeth in the fight against crime, and to better protect the most vulnerable in society.

At the same time, Chang told the House of Representatives that the Administration will move to broaden its partnership with the crime prevention agency, Crime Stop.

“While we speak to an overall 21 per cent decline in the number of murders in Jamaica since the start of the year, there has been a series of very cruel attacks on vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly and young children…,” Chang noted.

He said while there was an overall 29 per cent decline in the number of children murdered in Jamaica in 2018, when compared to 2017, “the attacks on these vulnerable groups appear to be more heinous and barbaric, and is a cause of great concern to the Government and the nation as a whole…”

Chang named some of the 38 children murdered since January, including 14-year-old Yetanya Francis and more recently, 14-year-old Raven Wilson. He said these murders “saddens and shames us as a nation”.

In terms of the planned expanded partnership with Crime Stop, Chang said it would include a special reward scheme to improve investigation of murders of vulnerable individuals.

“We are particularly concerned about children and the elderly as vulnerable (groups). However, this will not exclude individuals who may meet the criteria and therefore require a similar response,” the security minister said.

“We believe this added incentive will encourage more persons to come forward with useful information to assist with the investigations, arrests and successful prosecutions of the guilty parties,” he added.

”It must be that where offences are committed we must have severe penalties that act as a deterrent to these crimes. Justice must be swift, sure and severe,” he added.

Chang listed several pieces of legislation that are to be amended, including the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Child Care and Protection Act and the Offences against the Persons Act. He noted that the amendments took into consideration the vulnerable groups.

“Our women and children, the disabled and the elderly, must be protected instead of being assaulted and violated. The Ministry of National Security will lead in this charge, and it will be executed through the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF)… This culture of violence must give way to peace and security in our Jamaican communities,” said Chang.

Fitz Jackson... agreed, but...

For his part, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Fitz Jackson said proper research into what causes assaults on vulnerable Jamaicans should be carried out.

“It will require a concerted effort, a well thought out and organised approach, particularly in the communities where the characteristics are more glaring, for these kinds of activities to take place.

“And therefore, one of the things we need to do as a society is to make a study of what are the major contributing factors behind the committing of these criminal actions against our women and our children and our elderly,” Jackson said.

He cautioned the Government against any kind of knee-jerk reaction to the situation.

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