Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has joined the cry from other government officials and individuals in the private sector condemning the recent travel advisory issued by the United States (US), warning its citizens against travelling to Jamaica.
The most recent US travel advisory warned American citizens against entering the island and, while warning them against going to specific areas in the country if they do decide to come Jamaica, it also decried the public health conditions facing the nation.
“Right across, all the hotels now are being affected by the United States travel advisory. It is a fact of life; I am telling you I don’t think it was really necessary for them to put out that advisory,” Chuck stated, while addressing justices of the peace (JPs) from St James, Hanover and Westmoreland during a Ministry of Justice sensitisation session held at the Grand Palladium Resort in Hanover.
He argued that, according to the crime statistics put out by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, of three million visitors to the island in 2023, only three, who were actually Jamaicans visiting as tourists, were killed over the period.
“Regrettably, we cannot ignore it, we just have to see how we respond to crime,” he emphasised.
SHAME ON COUNTRY
While admitting that murders and criminal activity, whether aimed at locals or visitors, is not to be condoned, he argued that the more than 1,000 murders which occurred across Jamaica in 2023 is not only abnormal, but is a shame on the country.
“Every single one of us will have to address the question: how can we assist in reducing the number of murders, violent assaults, wrongdoing of all kinds in our homes, in our neighbourhoods and right across Jamaica,” he advised, while telling the JPs that they have a very important role to play in assisting the Government in determining how to respond to the situation.
Noting that the Government has put in a huge amount of funding and other resources into national security, he argued that the Government and the police cannot do it alone.
Chuck acknowledged the efforts of the police, arguing that they are fighting back, which has caused a reduction in murders for 2023 when compared to 2022, by eight per cent. Meanwhile, so far in 2024, when compared to the similar period of 2023, there has been a 24 per cent decrease.
“Justices of the peace, unless we start to reduce murders close to 50 per cent, we are in danger, not only to ourselves, but to the economy, because it will hurt Jamaica if we do not get murder under control,” he insisted.
He pointed out that an assessment of the murder statistics over the last year will reveal that close to 70 per cent of the murders committed are gang murders, and another 20 per cent are domestic murders.
“Nearly 300 of those murders were because of interpersonal domestic conflicts,” he noted, while pushing for the involvement of JPs in active parish associations and conflict resolution activities.
He called for all JPs to work very closely with the police in their respective areas.
“We want to get the murder rate below 1,000 in 2024, and every single one of you can play a part. If we can do that, we can send the message to America that they should give us some praise,” he advised.
Chuck noted that his ministry has developed a programme to assist the JP parish associations with some amount of grant funding. He said the amount of $1 million is available to all the JP parish associations for the financial year.