Kingston Wars (Via Caribbean360)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 2, 2010 – An all out assault has been declared on criminal gangs in Jamaica.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding put criminals on warning in an address to Parliament yesterday evening when he made it clear that the operation sparked by the attempt to capture wanted man Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke was just the beginning.

“The operation carried out in West Kingston involves more than an effort to execute a warrant of arrest on Christopher Coke. That may have been the catalyst but it is more than that. It is the beginning of a concerted effort to dismantle the aggressive criminal networks that have embedded themselves in communities in many urban areas and even in some rural communities,” Golding said.

“It is a campaign that will be sustained and intensified. It is a campaign that will target criminal gangs wherever they exist, irrespective of their political alliances or whether they have any such alliances.”

He added that there was credible information that the crime bosses and their followers, in West Kingston and elsewhere, were perhaps, for the first time, shaken.

“They must not be allowed to return to complacency. This effort must be sustained. It may be a long haul but there must be no letting up,” Golding declared.

West Kingston operation was turning point

The Prime Minister said that as painful as last week’s operation in West Kingston had been, it marked a turning point and “the prospect of a new era of re-socialization and re-integration of the communities of West Kingston”.

He said this would require considerable effort and goodwill, the support of state agencies, private sector, church community and non-governmental organisations.

From today, the Golding administration will be seeking parliamentary approval for six anti-crime Bills. Anti-gang measures to be part of a new Organized Crime Act, DNA legislation, amendment to the Evidence Act and Jury Act and the provision of limited statutory powers to members of the Jamaica Defence Force are additional measures to be taken to the House.

But the Prime Minister contended that rooting out criminal networks and changing the culture of garrison politics cannot be achieved purely by law enforcement efforts.

He said that must be accompanied by a programme of transformation “to fill the space now occupied by dons and crime practitioners, to provide for the people in these vulnerable communities a new pathway of hope and opportunity”.

State must assert authority

The Jamaican leader said the State must reassert both its authority and responsibility in those communities.

Golding said that the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is spearheading the development of a programme to support that effort.

“It is a cross-cutting, multi-agency approach. The team has prepared a broad framework which was outlined to me yesterday (Monday) and is being further developed and refined as a matter of urgency. We hope to engage the private sector and NGOs as partners in this endeavour,” he told Parliament. “It will require resources far beyond those that are currently available.”

Golding said he had also met with representatives of multilateral and bilateral agencies to enlist their support. He said he was extremely encouraged by their response and indicated that submissions are being prepared for their consideration.

The joint police/military operation that followed the declaration of a state of emergency in Kingston and St Andrew on Sunday, May 23rd resulted in several casualties. At the end of an intense gun battle between the security forces and criminal elements, one soldier had been killed and 30 others injured and the bodies of 73 civilians were recovered. A total of 47 guns and over 10,000 rounds of ammunition have so far been seized.

The process of identifying persons who were killed during the operation will begin today. Photographs of the deceased will be displayed at the Tivoli Gardens Community Centre and relatives and friends will also be able to view images on computers provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force.


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