Prime Minister Andrew Holness has expressed concerns that criminal gangs could threaten the sovereignty of Jamaica if they are not rigorously pursued and nullified with the use of extra security powers, such as the state of emergency (SOE).
Data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that there are some 379 gangs in Jamaica, of which approximately 262 are active. Six of those gangs are said to be operating in Norwood, St James, where a zone of special operations (ZOSO) was declared on June 20, after the community registered some 15 gang-related murders since the start of the year.
“It is not as if the Government is relying on exceptional powers alone,” said Holness, while addressing the nation’s security challenge during a recent visit to St James. “We are making long-term investments in infrastructure and human development, but we have an urgent problem that if we don’t use exceptional powers to address, those gangs can become a serious threat to the State.”
“I don’t have to expand and unpack that statement anymore. Ninety miles away from here, you see what can happen,” said Holness, in reference to the recent situation in Haiti, where that country’s president was assassinated by mercenary forces who were seemingly recruited by Haitians with bad intentions.