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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.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Caribbean News

Jamaica Rum Festival Endorsed

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, endorsed this year’s fourth staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James, on Saturday (June 25).

Ms. Grange, who officially opened the event, noted that rum, and spirits in general, has deep cultural significance in Jamaica, spanning centuries.

“From the cane fields, where our enslaved ancestors worked, through to today, where we have the best rum in the world… we have a lot to be proud of,” she added.

For his part, Tourism Director, Donovan White, commended the organisers of the festival, which attracted a significant number of patrons, including visitors from overseas.  He said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), was pleased to be a partner in the event that showcased top quality products by local rum purveyors.

Minister Grange, representatives from the Tourism Ministry’s agencies, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, were presented with limited edition Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.

 

Contact; Okoye Henry

Release: JIS

 

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Bahamas News

49th Independence Anniversary Celebrations Kick Off with National Pride Day

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#TheBahamas, June 27, 2022 – Under the theme: “Proud to Be Bahamian”, the National Independence Secretariat is set to kick off the 49th Independence Celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

In its efforts to promote pride and unity throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Secretariat is encouraging a National Flag Raising Ceremony be held at all Government, and private corporate offices.

This ceremony should be staged at 9am on the Friday, simultaneously.

Bahamians are urged to wear the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and assemble together as the National Flag is being hoisted and to sing the National Anthem, followed by a prayer.

The Secretariat is also encouraging participants to capture the event in photos and or videos, for posting on social media platforms, and inclusion in the national jubilee booklet and documentary next year.

Send images to: info@celebrate-bahamas.com

 

Photo Caption: Sienna Evans beautiful costume was created by Patrice Lockhart. Special thanks to Commonwealth Fabrics for their generous donation of the Androsia fabric used in the gown.

 

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Caribbean News

Education Ministry Recommits to Expanding Uniformed Groups in Schools

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools.  This is in keeping with its thrust to fulfill this mission under the Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has said.  She further noted that “it is a part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”

Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday (June 26).  The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.

Mrs. Williams remarks came against the background of what she said were “heightened concerns” in recent months over incidents of violence in schools across Jamaica and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic and character education for students.  She noted that several initiatives within the Ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, among them support for uniformed groups in schools.

“The Ministry has been supporting uniformed youth groups in the development of a Three-Year Strategic Plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups which will, at one and the same time, advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the Ministry to these groups,” Mrs. Williams added.

The Minister pointed out that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys Brigade, Cub Scouts, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades.”

“It has been well-established that students who participate in clubs are more out-going as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and team-work are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting,” she stated.

Mrs. Williams said the activities engaged in at meetings also complement classroom learning and emphasise social, emotional, and physical development.

Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.

“Uniformed youth groups represent a cohort of the nation’s youth that is organised around a set of core values, such as honour, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual fortitude,” the Minister emphasised.

She noted that while most are based in schools, units may also be organised at church and community levels.

“Indeed, we know that the church has been a main source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is, over the past few years, there has not been as robust an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Mrs. Williams indicated.

She said it was acknowledged that the society’s youth now have many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value in participating in groups such as these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders.

The Minister also noted that older and more traditional groups, such as Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, are international in scope and maintain linkages with the worldwide movements.

“Support from these fraternal organisations has, however, diminished over the years, and local organisations must find the resources to sustain operations and pay the required affiliation fees. So once again, it is important that we, in the local community, pitch in to provide the needed support,” she added.

In this regard, the Minister commended members of the uniformed groups and CVSS for ongoing efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.

Further, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at the regional and international levels.

“We, as a collective, continue to dedicate ourselves to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible to become productive members of society,” Mrs. Williams stated.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

 

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