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Jamaica’s drastic action against crime expected to save 300 lives by Year End

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Andrew Holness, Jamaican Prime Minister on Crime, JIS Photo

#Jamaica, October 14, 2019 — Ten years ago, Jamaica recorded its highest murder rate within a decade with some 1,680 homicides in 2009.  Ten years on, and two years after a murder count of 1,616 people (second highest in 10 years), the country is trending downward, significantly.

It is widely believed that the Jamaican Government’s bold interventions curtailed the killings and the murder count has decreased in some areas, like St. Thomas by 32 percent.

St Thomas, Jamaica. Photo by JamaicaStar

It is still heartbreaking that hundreds of people have died to violence of some kind in what is the third largest English speaking country in the Western Hemisphere and the largest one in the Caribbean, but many take heart in the fact that based on trends, one can surmise that likely 300 people will not be killed.

So, what happened to cause this reduction? 

The answer is bold initiative including declaring a State of Public Emergency (SOE) in several crime-ridden districts and parishes – St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland are among them – and that meant curfews and other drastic controls and powers were enacted for those areas.  Not only did the Jamaican government do it once, but over and over again in both 2018 and 2019 because, they say, it is working and has not hurt tourism.

Canadian tourists comfortable with SOE. Claudia Gardner, JIS Photo

Loop News Jamaica reported in October 2019 that Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Security is completely persuaded that the State of Public Emergency has saved lives, when social programmes did not.

“The first time we had a significant fall that has saved well over 200 Jamaican lives and stopped the mayhem and slaughter on the streets of Montego Bay, that was the introduction of the state of emergency,” the security minister explained while speaking at a Violence Prevention and Peace Building Symposium.

Also in October, it is reported that those SOEs, were extended.

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Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness in addressing the House of Assembly about the need to extend the SOE in south St. Andrew Police Division, presented statistical reasoning.

“It is a solution that has yielded results, and we are well aware of the challenges and the downsides to the SOEs,” he added that despite skepticism, “We have saved, by virtue of the collective action of this House by putting in place the SOE: 30 lives. There were 51 shootings in the 84 days before the SOE – that is down to 27.

Murders in the area were cut by half said the Prime Minister.

Reporting on the national impact of the SOE, PM Holness in a Jamaica Information Services news report said: “We have started a process of bringing down our murder rate from 1,600 in [2017]… . We have now brought it down to 1,280 [in 2018] and if we continue, we will bring down our murder rate to below 1,000.”

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Jamaica leads the Caribbean region in murders, has seen a spike in gun violence in 2019 and reports are that 70 percent of crime is linked to illegal drugs.

The State of Public Emergency gives the security forces temporary additional powers, including powers of search, arrest and detention.  Security forces can also curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain individuals without a warrant.

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EXCLUSIVE!  Police black CID Vehicle shot up by bandits in Five Cays

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Wilkie Arthur

Court Correspondent

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 15, 2024 – It was an uneasy night on Tuesday May 14 for some residents of Five Cays, Providenciales owing to continuous, serious fire power with gun shots blaring in various areas of the community.

Some say they heard shots in Granny Hill and reported a man walking around with a gun, randomly shooting at unidentifiable targets. Some say shots were heard behind the Enid Capron Primary School.  Some say they heard gun shot sounds coming from a residential area as well.

The most compelling accounts, however, were on reported events in another area called “The Wells”; a community in the depths of Five Cays and South Dock.

Criminals took on law enforcement in a gun battle involving the armored truck and a CID vehicle.

No members of the Royal TCI Police were hit.

Not the same for the other side.  One person was hit, a young man not known to police and it’s not clear if he was one of the men shooting at the police or an innocently caught in the crossfire.

The man was arrested as a possible suspect.  He is also in hospital with an “entrance and exit” gunshot wound.

During the shootout in The Wells, the CID vehicle was shot at repeatedly, disabling its movement as gunfire damaged the engine. Concerning to us, these shootings were at different times and locations but came in rapid succession; one right after the other, I was told.

Most described the sounds as coming “from some big guns.”

Police the morning after allowed me in to see up close.

Video, photos feature my EXCLUSIVE, close-up look at the damage done by criminals; it is clear high powered rifles were used by these suspects still at large.

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Charred Remains Found in Back Seat of Completely Burnt Vehicle

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Correspondent

 

#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – A gruesome discovery was made around midday today (Sunday, May 19th, 2024) when police and fire rescue teams responded to a call at a location on Blue Hills Back Road, off Millennium Highway. The area, situated next to the Fortis Sub-Station, is accessible via a long, secluded dirt road.

Upon arrival, authorities found a vehicle completely engulfed in flames. The vehicle was later removed by police after being alerted by an anonymous source to its burnt-out location. Local residents indicated that the fire had been ignited around 2-3 a.m. earlier that morning, but authorities were not notified until later in the day.

Residents could not provide details about the individual inside the vehicle or even discern its color due to the extensive damage caused by the fire. Videos of the discovery location are available, but footage of the vehicle itself will be provided once it has been located. The vehicle was reportedly still burning when police arrived at the scene.

Official Royal TCI Police Report:

Media Release – May 19th, 2024: Active Investigation Officers of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) are currently on the scene of a vehicle fire in the Blue Hills, Providenciales area. Acting on received information, officers arrived at the location along North Side Close and discovered a burnt vehicle with what appeared to be a body inside.
The RTCIPF is conducting a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances of this incident. As this is an active investigation, more details will be provided to the public as they become available.

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Caribbean News

NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETARIAT INFORMATION NOTE ISSUED MAY 17, 2024

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May 21, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and or ammunition without a licence and strict penalties in order to serve and protect the community. Our Firearms Ordinance, which was amended in 2022, states that:

No person (other than a licensed gunsmith in the course of his trade) shall have in his possession, discharge or use any firearm or ammunition unless he is the holder of a firearm licence with respect to such firearm, or in case of ammunition he is the holder of a licence for a firearm which takes that ammunition.

Firearm and/or ammunition offences carry a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of twelve years plus a fine. Where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion, under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum.

The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in respect of the application of exceptional circumstances. Wider work is also ongoing with criminal justice partners to review the efficiency and effectiveness of case progression, in driving justice outcomes.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of firearms and/or ammunition. Permission from an airline carrier does not constitute permission to bring firearms or ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands. Travellers are also strongly advised to search their luggage before they travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ensure they do not bring in forbidden items inadvertently. Such offences will result in arrest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a common law legal system, and reserves the right to enforce its laws. All persons, including visitors, must follow lawful process.

The Turks and Caicos Islands welcomes all visitors but reminds travellers that persons in the Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a constitutional right to carry firearms. Equally, the importation of firearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons is strictly forbidden, unless licence to do so has been issued by the Commissioner of Police.

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