Dr Horace Chang, Minister of National Security, Jamaica

Jamaica Observer EDITORIAL: KINGSTON, JA – We would not be surprised to find that National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has a speech at the ready on his computer, to be trotted out as another multiple murder is committed, with the need only to change names, dates and locations.

After acknowledging the latest “bloody weekend” in Jamaica, featuring several triple and double murders, totalling 25 people between January 16 and 19, the minister, for the umpteenth time, condemned the brutal killers and promised yet again: “The police intend to increase activities and we are not deterred by these kinds of brazenness.”

In addition, the security minister let us know that, before the weekend slaughters, murders were trailing last year’s rate by 18.5 percent.

To add insult to injury, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte gave us this gem: “The country has been calling on the State to act, and the State will act. The level of brazenness and utter disregard for lives and public order cannot be accepted.”

We suppose that the country should be completely reassured by the fighting words of Dr Chang and Mrs Malahoo Forte, and we should expect the shooters to be quaking in their boots as they scramble to get rid of their guns, take up lawful employment, and start going back to church.

It is past ridiculous that that is all we can expect from an Administration which continues to bamboozle with words while failing to keep the country safe — the most sacred duty of a Government.

The Government appears at this stage to be bankrupt of ideas to fight crime. Well-intentioned as he is, Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave away the game when he did just what the much-jeered former Security Minister Peter Bunting did in calling for divine intervention.

It also evident that the Government is totally lost without the ability to impose the states of emergency (SOEs), seemingly impotent while it appeals a 2020 Supreme Court decision citing constitutional breaches in SOEs on which the Administration was solely depending.
Hankering about the courts for a favourable result — which it might not get — is no way to fight crime. And, surely, nothing much can be expected in the way of success if the only weapon against criminals in the State’s arsenal is the SOE.

This makes us wonder why the Government continues to stubbornly refuse to activate the stakeholder group approach, through which it can seek to unite the country, working with our agencies and institutions, as well as the Opposition, to take the fight to the gunmen.

We could understand — though we do not condone it — the Holness Administration’s reluctance to work with the Opposition and private sector groups in the lead-up to the September 3, 2020 General Election, fearing that it might seem clueless and weak on crime. But with the polls behind us, what could be the explanation?

We also wonder what has happened with JamaicaEye, which was to be part of an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to increase the safety of all citizens. These cameras were to monitor public spaces across the island and assist the authorities in responding to criminal incidents.

We had thought that by now these cameras would be in all our main towns and cities, but, alas, it’s again more words, promises and  the Government’s favourite word  commitments.